What Did Physicians Think about Health Reform in 2009?

Surveying physicians in 2009 on the public option and other proposals to expand coverage under health care reform

Field of Work: Learning physicians' views of health care reform

Problem Synopsis: During the health reform debates, a key question was whether the American Medical Association's stand on health care reform represented the views of its member physicians and of U.S. physicians overall.

Synopsis of the Work: Mt. Sinai researchers, assisted by a panel of experts, designed a survey asking physicians which of three options for expanding health insurance coverage they would most strongly support:

  • Private options only, providing low-income people with tax credits or subsidies to buy private insurance coverage;
  • Public option only, eliminating private insurance and covering everyone through a single public plan;
  • Both public and private options.

Key Findings

  • The researchers' findings were published on September 14, 2009, in an e-publication version of the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) and reported on National Public Radio on September 14 and 15. The print version was published in NEJM on October 1, 2009. Findings include:

    • Overall, a majority of physicians who responded to the survey (62.9%) favored a combination of public and private options.
    • Physicians in every region of the country showed majority support for a combined public and private option. Support ranged from 69.7 percent in the Northeast to 58.9 percent in the South.
    • Medical practice owners were less likely to support having both a public and private option than non-owners (59.7% vs. 67.1%), but a majority in both groups still supported it.
    • AMA members (62.2 %) also supported the combination of a public and private option. This was contrary to the AMA’s platform opposing a public option.
    • A majority of physicians (58.3%) favored expanding Medicare to Americans between the ages of 55 and 64 years. Twenty three percent were opposed and the rest (18.5%) were unsure.

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