Free Health Care a Good Idea – Just Don't Make Me Change

October 12, 2007 ( - By a slim majority, Americans favor providing free health care to all Americans - but only if they don't have to change their insurance.

A Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that support for the notion of “free” health care falls dramatically if the plan requires everyone with insurance to “change their coverage and join a program administered by the government” – with support plunging to just 31%. However, aside from that, even though most Americans surveyed thought providing health care for free would reduce the overall quality of care (52%), increase the overall cost (49%), and increase their personal costs (52%, once higher taxes were factored in), 51% supported the notion.

One big reason for the drop in support is that two-thirds (68%) of those who are already insured believe their own health care coverage would get worse, though nearly one-in-five (18%) think it would improve. Eighty-two percent (82%) of those surveyed are currently insured.

Party Lines

The survey found that a plurality (45%) of Democrats favor offering free health care to all even if it required making everyone with insurance to switch, with roughly a third opposed to it on that basis. Republicans oppose the notion by a whopping 70% to 18% margin, while those not affiliated with either major party are opposed by a 46% to 28% margin.

Fifty-two percent (52%) say that reducing health care costs is a higher priority than making sure everyone is insured. However, most Democrats (57%) say that providing insurance for everyone is the top priority, while most Republicans (71%) and those not affiliated with either party (52%) say reducing costs should be the priority.

This telephone survey of 1,000 Adults was conducted by Rasmussen Reports October 9-10, 2007. The margin of sampling error for the survey is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence.