Survey: Americans Want Health Care Choice

Published October 1, 2001

A new survey, commissioned by Communicating for Agriculture and the Self-Employed (CA) and conducted by Strategic Research Group of Minneapolis, reports emphatically that Americans want more freedom in health care.

“An overwhelming 86 percent of those responding to the survey told us they want more freedom to choose the type of health plan they want, including ones that reduce the amount of coverage they have,” said Wayne Nelson, president of CA.

Americans like the idea of tax credits as an incentive to increase the number of individuals and families with health insurance, but they don’t think too highly of the Patients’ Bill of Rights.

When asked whether Congress should pass legislation giving them the right to sue their health care plans, or pass legislation creating a tax credit for health insurance, 79 percent of respondents said they would rather have a tax credit.

Support for the tax credit went up to 86 percent when respondents were specifically asked about proposed tax credit legislation, which would grant credits of up to $1,000 per individual and up to $3,000 for a family with the funds to be used to pay for private health insurance premiums.

“There is no question that the vast majority of Americans want more choice and tax credits for individuals–not just employers–to purchase health insurance,” said Nelson. “Yet most legislative assumptions are that almost all health insurance is employer-sponsored. That assumption must change if we are to meet the needs of America’s uninsured.”

Survey Highlights

  • Respondents said the Patients’ Bill of Rights would not make health insurance coverage more affordable, but they believe it would give them more choices and more freedom to sue their health plan.
  • Sixty-three percent of respondents said their health insurance premiums had recently increased, and 6 percent had dropped their insurance because it was too expensive.
  • When asked who to blame for the increases, 33 percent said doctors and hospitals charge too much, and 32 percent said insurance companies are inflating their profit margins. Only 16 percent said government rules and regulations were to blame, while 14 percent blamed pharmaceutical companies for increasing the price of drugs.
  • Survey respondents were evenly divided on whether they would support replacing private health insurance with a government-run plan, even if taxes would increase.
  • Sixty-four percent of respondents said they would not support requiring health insurance companies to support all Americans.
  • Most respondents said their monthly health insurance premiums were between $100 and $400.

Freedom, not Rights

“It was interesting that Americans view doctors, hospitals, and insurance companies as the culprits as insurance costs rise,” said Jeff Smedsrud of Strategic Research Group.

“Many physicians tell us that they are feeling the pinch of rising costs and in reality, many of the insurance companies are actually losing money as they pass along cost increases, such as high prescription drugs. Furthermore, insurance companies have faced greater regulation over the past decade and yet it has not lowered costs to consumers.”

“Regardless of who is at fault,” said CA’s Nelson, “it is clear from our survey that consumers do not see the Patients’ Bill of Rights as the answer to rising health care costs and would rather see legislation that creates opportunities for some 40 million Americans who do not have health insurance.”

And, Nelson said, “We believe–and the survey supports this belief–that the only real way to encourage more Americans to purchase health insurance is through tax credits or deductions for all individuals who purchase their own health insurance and to restore competition and choice in individual and small business health insurance markets.

“We also believe that it is time for the Congress to pass legislation that would expand state health safety nets or risk pools to help the medically uninsurable and develop ways to keep associations strong so they can continue to offer their individual members affordable health insurance. Such legislation would be a real Patients’ Bill of Rights–one that really benefits consumers and keeps health costs down.”

CA is a national, nonprofit, nonpartisan association that provides benefits and services for members in every state. Households from around the country were randomly surveyed for this study.

For more information . . .

visit the Communicating for Agriculture and the Self-Employed at, or contact Wayne Nelson at 612/819-4629 or Jeff Smedsrud at 952/884-4258.

For more information on state-run high-risk health insurance pools, see