Large Majorities of Public Blame Health Insurers, Drug Industry, Republicans, Business for Problems with Our Current Health Care

Large Majorities of Public Blame Health Insurers, Drug Industry, Republicans and Business for Problems with Our Current Health Care System

NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Whatever the public may think about proposals for health care reform, they blame many different parties for the problems with the system we have now. The health insurance and pharmaceutical industries are the most widely blamed, with most people believing they deserve a "great deal of blame." However, more than 60% of all adults believe that both Republicans and Democrats in Congress, business, hospitals, former President George W. Bush and doctors should all get at least some blame.

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll® of 2,498 U.S. adults surveyed online between August 10 and 18, 2009 by Harris Interactive®.

Fully 90% of all adults blame the health insurance industry, and 60% believe it deserves a "great deal" of blame. Almost as many, 84% of adults blame the pharmaceutical industry and 53% think it deserves a "great deal" of the blame.

Substantial but smaller majorities believe that all of the following are to blame: Republicans in Congress (74%), business (72%), hospitals (70%), Democrats in Congress (69%), President George W. Bush (66%), and doctors (61%). However, less than 30% believe any of these deserve a "great deal" of blame.

A 58% to 42% majority does not think President Bill Clinton is to blame.

Majority Believes Obama's Proposals Would Create a Government-run Health Care System

This Harris Poll also tested the impact of the health care debate on public perceptions of President Obama's proposals. This poll was conducted in August, before the President's address to Congress on September 9th. It found that:

  • A 49% to 40% plurality of adults support President Obama's proposals, compared to a 42% to 38% plurality in July and a 50% to 20% plurality in January;
  • A slender 54% to 46% majority rates Obama's proposals as "good" but only 19% believe they are "very good";
  • However, a 54% majority rates the proposals by the Democrats in Congress as "bad" and a larger 69% majority rates the proposals of the Republicans in Congress as "bad" (it should be noted, of course, that there are, as yet, no one set of proposals coming from either the Democrats or the President - nor, of course, from the Republicans).
  • A 58% to 19% majority believes that President Obama's plans would create a "government-run health care system";
  • A 28% minority believe that President Obama's plans would not allow anyone, "who wants to, keep the health insurance they have now."

So What?

These poll findings illustrate the tangled nature of public opinion on health care reform. Doubts about President Obama's proposals have increased but nobody else - certainly not the Congressional Republicans - is seen as having anything better to offer.

In general the low level of support for any proposal, and the large number who blame both the public and the private sectors provide a gloomy picture of public distrust and low expectations.

The Harris Poll® #99, September 9, 2009

By Humphrey Taylor, Chairman, The Harris Poll


This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States August 10 and 18, 2009, among 2, 984 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online. Full data tables and methodology are available at

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

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