Posted on April 8, 2008

Most Doctors Support National Health Insurance Updated


by DrSteveB
Mon Mar 31, 2008 at 01:54:14 PM PDT

I have always wanted to do a “Breaking” headline. Well this is from a press release embargoed until just now on an article in the professional peer reviewed journal Annals of Internal Medicine (aka: the green journal; it’s generally considered the 3rd most prestigious American medical journal). It reports on a methodologically valid survey of American doctors.

The survey, conducted last year of 2,193 physicians across the United States, showed 59% “support government legislation to establish national health insurance,” while 32% oppose & 9% are neutral. That’s a solid majority of American doctors, and up 10% from 49% in 2002 when a similar study was last done. We have all gotten pretty sick of the insurance companies!

So, yeah for us docs, for getting it! Now if only the Dems running for president were as progressive! Fortunately there is HR-676 in Congress.

UPDATE: For those who want the full original journal article, methods, etc. the full text of the article just went online here:

More on the study:

As you know, such plans typically involve a single, federally administered social insurance fund that that guarantees health care coverage for everyone, much like Medicare currently does for seniors. The plans typically eliminate or substantially reduce the role of private insurance companies in the health care financing system, but still allow patients to go the doctors of their choice.

From the Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP) press release:

The findings reflect a leap of 10 percentage points in physician support for national health insurance (NHI) since 2002, when a similar survey was conducted. At that time, 49 percent of all physician respondents said they supported NHI and 40 percent opposed it.

Support among doctors for NHI has increased across almost all medical specialties, said Dr. Ronald T. Ackermann, associate director of the Center for Health Policy and Professionalism Research at Indiana University’s School of Medicine and co-author of the study.

“Across the board, more physicians feel that our fragmented and for-profit insurance system is obstructing good patient care, and a majority now support national insurance as the remedy,” he said.

Support for NHI is particularly strong among psychiatrists (83 percent), pediatric sub-specialists (71 percent), emergency medicine physicians (69 percent), general pediatricians (65 percent), general internists (64 percent) and family physicians (60 percent). Fifty-five percent of general surgeons support NHI, roughly doubling their level of support since 2002.

Doctors have often expressed concern about lack of patient access to care due to rising costs and patients’ insufficient levels of insurance. An estimated 47 million Americans currently lack health insurance coverage and another 50 million are believed to be underinsured. At the same time, health care costs in the United States are rising at the rate of about 7 percent a year, twice the rate of inflation.

The health care issue continues to rank high among voter concerns in the 2008 elections, placing third in a recent poll after the economy and Iraq.

The current study by the Indiana University researchers is the largest survey ever conducted among doctors on the issue of health care financing reform. It is based on a random sampling of names obtained from the American Medical Association’s master list of physicians throughout the country.

In addition to measuring attitudes toward NHI, the survey also asked doctors about their views about “more incremental reform,” often interpreted as state- or federal-based programs requiring or “mandating” that consumers buy health insurance from private insurance companies, legislative measures providing tax incentives to businesses to provide coverage for their employees, or similar steps.

Fewer physicians (55%) were in support of “incremental” reform. Moreover, virtually all those opposed to national health insurance also opposed incremental reform to improve access to care. In fact, only 14% of physicians overall oppose national health insurance but support more incremental reforms. Ironically, many medical organizations and most politicians have endorsed only incremental changes.

Dr. Aaron E. Carroll, Director of Indiana University’s Center for Health Policy and Professionalism Research and lead author of the study, commented: “Many claim to speak for physicians and reflect their views. We asked doctors directly and found that, contrary to conventional wisdom, most doctors support the government creating national health insurance.”

Other signs indicate that attitudes among doctors are changing. The nation’s largest medical specialty group, the 124,000-member American College of Physicians, endorsed a single-payer national health insurance program for the first time in December.

By the way, earlier state-level surveys have found that 64% of physicians in Minnesota support single payer. In New Hampshire the figure is 67% supporting single payer!

Admittedly, PNHP’s membership is only around 15,000 nationwide. But did you know that the AMA memberhsip is down to 25% of American physicians and dropping.

Journal Reference for the article in the press release:
“Support for National Health Insurance among American Physicians: Five Years Later,” Aaron E. Carroll and Ronald T. Ackermann, Annals of Internal Medicine, April 2008. Dr. Aaron Carroll is a member of the Board of Directors of PNHP.

Physicians for a National Health Program, a membership organization of over 15,000 physicians (and also many other non-physicians), supports a single-payer national health insurance program. PNHP physician experts are available for interviews and can speak about the health care crisis in your state and options for reform at both the state and national level (e.g. on the leading Presidential candidates health plans).

To contact groups supporting single payer and/or a physician-spokesperson in your state, click here: PNHP-State Actions or call 312-782-6006.