Public Release: 

More docs favor national health insurance, study reveals

Indiana University

Nearly half of physicians in the United States favor governmental legislation to establish national health insurance, with the strongest support coming from pediatricians, psychiatrists and general internists.

Those are among the findings of a nationwide study conducted by researchers at the Indiana University School of Medicine whose findings were published in the Nov. 18 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine. With the exception of family practitioners, anesthesiologists and surgical subspecialties, 49 percent of the physicians in major specialties surveyed say they support national health insurance.

"At the very least, this survey takes the pulse of the general state of support among U.S. physicians for governmental action to arrange health insurance financing," says Aaron E. Carroll, M.D., M.S., assistant professor of pediatrics, who along with Ronald T. Ackermann, M.D., M.P.H., assistant professor of medicine, were the study's investigators. "It also improves our understanding of how the level of this support varies across different personal, professional and practice characteristics."

Nearly 3,200 physicians from the American Medical Association's Masterfile of all practicing physicians were surveyed. Forty percent of the doctors surveyed said they either strongly or generally opposed legislation to establish national health care.

Only 26 percent supported a system whereby the federal government is the sole payer for health care services.

A recent Harris Interactive poll showed that 81 percent of U.S. physicians believed that some "fundamental change" is needed to make health care more workable for citizens. That's 24 percent more than expressed wanting "fundamental change" in 1994. That poll also revealed a growing discontent with the current health care system among large, medium and small employers; health plan managers and the general public.

More than 44 million Americans do not have any form of health insurance, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The IU study was funded by grants from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

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For more study details, see http://www.annals.org/cgi/content/full/139/10/795.

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