Poll: U.S. Split on Socialized Medicine

A new poll shows that U.S. voters are divided on the issue
of socialized medicine, which is a single-payer, government-run health care
system.

The poll comes from the Harvard School of Public Health and Harris
Interactive. More than 2,000 people took part in the poll, conducted by phone
in January and February.

First, people were asked how well they understood the term "socialized
medicine."

About two-thirds -- 67% -- said they understand the term "very well"
or "somewhat well." Thirty percent said they don't understand the
term very well or at all. The rest said they didn't know or didn't answer that
question.

What Is Socialized Medicine?

People also had different expectations of socialized medicine.

Participants who said they understood socialized medicine "very
well," "somewhat well," or "not very well" listened to
three statements and noted those they thought applied to socialized
medicine.

The poll shows that 79% thought that in a socialized medicine system, the
government makes sure everyone has health insurance, 73% thought the government
would pay most of the cost of health insurance, and 32% said they think it
means that the government tells doctors what to do.


(Confused by health care buzzwords? Get the facts from WebMD's Election
Glossary .)

Better or Worse?

Next, people who claimed to understand socialized medicine "very
well," "somewhat well," or "not very well" were asked if
they thought socialized medicine would make the U.S. health care system better
or worse.

The results: 45% said they thought it would improve health care, 39% said
they thought it would worsen health care, 4% said they thought it wouldn't make
much difference, and 12% didn't know or didn't answer.

But those figures take on another dimension when politics comes into
play.

Partisan Split

Among Democrats, 70% said they thought socialized medicine would improve
U.S. health care. And 70% of Republicans said they thought it would worsen
health care.

As for independents, 43% said they thought socialized medicine would improve
U.S. health care, 38% said it would worsen health care, 5% said it wouldn't
make much difference, and 14% didn't know or didn't answer.

Lastly, participants heard a list of presidential candidates' names and
indicated whether they thought that person, if elected, would propose
socialized medicine. They didn't have to pick just one candidate.

Hillary
Clinton led the list of candidates that participants expected to propose
socialized medicine as president; 69% said they thought she would do so. Next
came Barack
Obama (57%), Mike Huckabee
(19%), and John
McCain (15%).

John McCain
topped the list of candidates that participants didn't expect to propose
socialized medicine; 62% said they didn't expect such a proposal from McCain,
followed Mike
Huckabee (52%), Barack Obama
(26%), and Hillary Clinton
(21%).

None of those candidates has proposed socialized medicine programs as part
of their campaign platform.


(Find out where the presidential candidates stand on health care. Visit
WebMD's Health Matters
in the 2008 Election . And read what experts think about the U.S. health
care system on WebMD's blog by opinion and thought
leaders .)

By Miranda Hitti
Reviewed by Louise Chang
©2005-2006 WebMD, Inc. All rights reserved