April 14, 1993

The Public, Their Doctors, and Health Care Reform

REPORT SUMMARY

Two-thirds of America’s doctors prescribe fundamental reform for the health care system of this country, and they seem ready to swallow a pill they have rejected for generations — significant outside control of medicine.

A nationwide survey of medical doctors by the Times Mirror Center for the People and the Press found 58% responding positively to the managed competition approach being pushed by the Clinton Administration, even though the doctors predict that their incomes and freedom will suffer and the health of Americans will worsen.  Opinion of the single payor system, which has been called nationalized medicine, was on balance negative (58% to 41%).  But it was nonetheless striking that three out of four doctors had positive disposition to either managed competition or the single payor system which is viewed as a more extreme alternative.

The American public, which was polled along with their doctors, called for more radical reform than the physicians, at least in words.  A majority (55%) want the nation’s health care system completely rebuilt, a more far-reaching notion than fundamental reform.  But the public is not willing to pay the price of its rhetoric by accepting reduced services.  indeed, almost half say too little money is spent today on health care, a view held by only 7% of doctors.