Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Three Out of Four Doctors Approve

According to a poll posted on NPR, 73% of doctors surveyed support the public option.

When polled, “nearly three-quarters of physicians supported some form of a public option, either alone or in combination with private insurance options,” says Dr. Salomeh Keyhani. She and Dr. Alex Federman, both internists and researchers at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, conducted a random survey, by mail and by phone, of 2,130 doctors. They surveyed them from June right up to early September.

Most doctors — 63 percent — say they favor giving patients a choice that would include both public and private insurance. That’s the position of President Obama and of many congressional Democrats. In addition, another 10 percent of doctors say they favor a public option only; they’d like to see a single-payer health care system. Together, the two groups add up to 73 percent.

When the American public is polled, anywhere from 50 to 70 percent favor a public option. So that means that when compared to their patients, doctors are bigger supporters of a public option.

The reason for the support stems from the fact that most doctors already know how to deal with government-supported insurance systems — Medicare and Medicaid — and they seem to like how they work.

A couple of other interesting points came out in the survey: support for the public option cuts across all branches of medicine, from GP’s to specialists, urban to rural, and it also received support from doctors who are members of the AMA, which is on record as being opposed to the public option.

A couple of caveats, too: the survey was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson, a foundation that favors healthcare reform. (For that matter, though, so do most of the opponents of President Obama’s plan and the idea of a public option.) The other wrinkle in this is that so far, no one has firmly defined what a “public option” really is or what the version of it would be when the bill is finally written.

But it is heartening for those of us who would like to see a public option of some sort, whether it’s Medicare without an age limit or some form of single-payer (which, by the way, we already have: either you pay or the insurance company does), is supported by the men and women who, other than the patient, would be the ones who would be dealing with reformed healthcare every day.