Two in three Americans call the health care reforms being debated by lawmakers confusing; only 31 percent said they have a clear understanding of the proposed changes. Sixty-seven percent of those questioned said the reform ideas were confusing.
This evaluation cuts across party lines, with majorities of both Republicans (69 percent) and Democrats (58 percent) saying the current proposals are confusing.
Most Americans (60 percent) say the President has not clearly explained his health care reform plans. While slightly more than half of Democrats think Mr. Obama has clearly explained his plans, majorities of Republicans and independent voters say he has not.
Government vs. Private Industry
Americans also have increasing doubts as to how well the government can compete with private insurers. Just under half of those questioned said the government would do a worse job providing medical coverage - only 36 percent said it would do better, marking a change since earlier this summer.
There has also been a significant drop in the percentage that says government would be better than insurers at keeping costs down; from 59 percent in June to 47 percent now. Still, more said the government rather than private insurers would do a better job containing costs.
Most Americans have heard or read something about the protestors who attended recent town hall meetings on health care reform. Among those who have heard about them, almost half (49 percent) said the protestors do not reflect the views of most Americans, but 41 percent said they do.
A majority of Republicans (66 percent) said the protestors reflect the opinions of Americans as a whole, while a slightly larger proportion of Democratic participants did not (73 percent). Among those aged 65 and over, 45 percent said the protestors' views were in line with those of most Americans - the highest of any age group.
This poll was conducted among a random sample of 1,097 adults nationwide, interviewed by telephone August 27-31, 2009. Phone numbers were dialed from random digit dial samples of both standard land-line and cell phones. The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus three percentage points. The error for subgroups is higher.
This poll release conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.