Ever since Barack Obama began his crusade for health care socialization, the meme in the media has been that “Americans want health care reform.” Do a Google search for that phrase and you’ll find story after story that trumpets that line, usually with no evidence to support it.
This past week, Gallup published a rather astonishing survey that blows holes in the theory that “because Americans want health care reform, the Government should provide it”. The Gallup survey found that for the first time in almost ten years, Americans now say that health care is not the government’s responsibility.
It’s tempting to blame this shift on the Obama push for health care rationing, death panels and the general socialization of health care in America, but the trend started well before Obama’s coronation. But the free-fall did begin in earnest during the campaign season of 2008, and continued to where we are now.
Why has this happened? Gallup doesn’t offer much help:
The reason behind this shift is unknown. Certainly the federal government’s role in the nation’s healthcare system has been widely and vigorously debated over the last several months, including much focus on the “public option.” These data suggest that one result of the debate has been a net decrease in Americans’ agreement that ensuring all Americans have healthcare coverage is an appropriate role for the federal government.
It appears that much of the current opposition to government-run health care may have originated from opposition to the so-called “public option” being pushed by the Democrats. Why would we be opposed to publicly-funded health care? Many of us simply object to the government encroaching further on the private sector. And why would we have any trust that the government can manage one-sixth of our economy when they can’t even pull off Cash for Clunkers or a swine flu vaccine program? Distrust is undoubtedly a key factor.
But one of the biggest reasons for this shift in attitude of Americans may be that there is not a perception of a compelling problem. Despite the rampant dubious claims of “46 million uninsured” and concerns about cost, Americans don’t seem to think there’s that big of a problem with their health care. Back in March, 2009, CNN found that almost 80% of Americans are happy with the quality of their health care and almost 75% were happy with their health care coverage. But 75% were dissatisfied with the cost of health care – not surprising…of course we want something for nothing! Given this high satisfaction level with existing private sector health care, why would America support socialized medicine, especially when almost 60% of Americans believe that government health care would increase the cost, rather than decrease it?
The Gallup findings reflect a profound shift in the attitude of Americans about the role of government in health care. If nothing else, this health care debate has forced Americans to think about the implications of the government’s intrusion in our lives and what it costs us, in money and freedom. Let’s hope that similar attitude shifts occur with respect to other aspects of the public versus private sector so we can put a stop to the creeping intrusion of government on American life.