WNYC/Rutgers-Eagleton Poll Results

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

David Redlawsk, director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling at Rutgers University's Eagleton Institute of Politics, and Lindy Washburnsenior writer at The Record of Bergen County, discuss the results of the WNYC/Rutgers-Eagleton Poll.


Professor David Redlawsk and Lindy Washburn

Comments [45]

Suzanne from manhattan

Brian, you and your guest are too young. Under Medicare and Medicaid the government IS NOT providing the health care services, the government contracts with public & private insurers and health care providers who in turn provide the health care. I love Medicare, but I get services through a private insurer e.g. United HealthCare which contracts with the government to administer Medicare. This is not the same as dealing with government-hired and government supervised doctors as in the VA hospitals or in the British or Canadian systems. I love Medicare; I don't want to be in a government run hospital attended by doctors who work for the government. There's a difference. Please get this straight and help the pollsters get this straight. Their questions in this area are confusing and flawed. Medicare is private insurers contracting with the government. Medicare recipients deal with private doctors, hospitals and insurers under a government-funded program. It' both, not either/or.

Oct. 10 2012 04:37 PM
Cab from New York City

Healthcare preferences and expectations:
I'd prefer it if private insurers would deliver on the coverage that is necessary; but I expect them to try to weasel out of their part of the bargain. I would prefer that the role of government be to keep everyone honest to insure the greatest good for the greatest number; but expect that private interests will do their best to prevent government from doing so.

Over all I would prefer a government run, single payer system, handled by healthcare professionals dedicated to delivering the best care possible to all who need it. We as taxpayers would pay for it and, since we will pay for healthcare regardless of whether it is public or private, it is only through our government that we have a chance of implementing a system that is as fair and cost effective as possible.

A previous commenter listed private insurer CEOs along with their compensation most of which were in the tens of millions. These were rewards for increasing profits which could only be attained, at least in part, from the denial of coverage to people who had paid their premiums in good faith or could not find affordable coverage due to pre-existing conditions, loss of work, etc. This isn't just about private profit versus public good. If you are a CEO or a stockholder it isn't profits you're taking; it's human lives.

Oct. 10 2012 12:24 PM
The Truth from Becky

Only the very rich repubs will benefit from private insurance. All of you blind followers (under approx $75k per year) with real life responsibilities, will not be able to pay for private insurance once you retire. Not everyone is retiring with a pension plan. You all almost always end up taking the medicare option. Hard core white republican that I work with, proudly flashing his medicare card around last week. Hypocrites!

Oct. 10 2012 10:49 AM
Jeremiah from Howard Beach

With respect to greater support for private insurance, I believe there is a big piece of the puzzle which has not yet been addressed. We often forget about the private sector's advertising, public relations, and lobbying ability. The private insurance industry has spent years, and no doubt countless dollars, demonizing any government involvement in heath care insurance. Should the private industry be required to compete with the government on a level playing field, I'm sure the results of the poll would be much different.

Oct. 10 2012 10:48 AM

Imagine the productivity that would be added back to the economy if workers no longer had to spend ENDLESS man hours on the phone, arguing with their health "insurance" Kompany® to cover critical care?!!!?

Oct. 10 2012 10:47 AM
donna from Montclair

If you own a house in New Jersey you do not qualify for charity care and emergency care, will bankrupt you. A broken leg can send you to bankruptcy court. Even the ambulance will tell you not to go.

Oct. 10 2012 10:46 AM
RJ from prospect hts.

There is so much nuance and individuality in health care coverage that it is virtually impossible to "poll" this issue.

For example, the caller who thinks that Romney's plan is "fantastic" because competition is how things succeed. Let's compare competition in health care to that of, say, competition in a car purchase: HC: I am healthy, and so I buy a low-premium, catastrophic-care plan; I spend the wealth I save to start a new business that pays the low premiums. Car: I have a decent income and so purchase a new car in payments I can afford. HC: I am hit by a car while biking to my new business. I'm taken to an emergency room and thankfully have a few broken ribs but no major organ damage. However, I am still laid up, and in pain, and cannot develop my business; my policy pays the current bills but I cannot afford to maintain the premium payments and the plan lapses. Most private insurance will not pick me up because of the obvious high cost of my care and I cannot afford the high premiums of plans that will. My remaining income is (for now) too high for (taxpayer-subsidized) Medicaid; I may be covered by (taxpayer-subsidized) disability under Medicare. Car: I lose my job for whatever reason and can no longer afford the payments; I sell it and buy a used one that at least provides the minimal transport cost; I can compare (with competition) among the many cars available that will cost me the least for payments, gas, and durability/repair. HC: There are no private plans I can afford that will cover my current situation. Both I and my parents have been paying taxes, some of which has gone into whatever funding goes to Medicaid, so we cannot, under this competitive scenario, get any return on our payments. So I must go into bankruptcy, and only then perhaps qualify for Medicaid.

This is only one scenario of the broad range of individual situations. Is there no way funnel all the taxes, premiums, etc., into one pot that everyone can draw from so that everyone can get health insurance? We never know--it's astonishing how some conservatives (Sens. Strom Thurmond and Pete Domenici come to mind) become fond of government-sponsored health insurance when it affects their families.

Oct. 10 2012 10:45 AM

Government/Private Insurance? Frying Pan/Fire. Choice? Having worked with government Medicaid agencies, I have little faith in their workers commitment to public service and their respect for government & its citizens. Having worked in private healthcare I have even less faith in private health systems. Although I loath Romney to the limit, and I am totally for public health models, I did agree with him that this reform should have been done state by state. It would only have been through this comparative measure that we could have some perspective on what works and what doesn't in this country. The big elephant in the room is that this is not one nation, it is a sub-continent of states with different outlooks and different requirements. We need to start respecting that more, or watch it fall apart.

Oct. 10 2012 10:44 AM

The health "insurance" industry™ is a PARASITE on the American worker and the American economy!!

Literally SUCKING the blood right out of us!!

Oct. 10 2012 10:44 AM
Craig Shubert from Riverdale

We ARE the federal government! When the federal government expands Medicade, it pays for it with our own taxes, or, more likely, with debt.

Oct. 10 2012 10:42 AM
Theresa from New Rochelle

It is beyond my why any one would want private insurance companies, whose bottom line is making a profit, making the medical decisions. At least the government has an overarching interest in the good of the people as a whole.

There have been too many times when we have had to argue with the insurance companies for medical decisions made by my doctors. I spent five years in Germany and would give anything to have a similar system here. No co-pays, the doctor takes care of all the paperwork, and no arguing with insurance companies about decisions the doctor has made in my best interests.

Oct. 10 2012 10:40 AM
Lian from Manhattan

The federal government doesn't pay for anything. They take our money via taxation and pay for it. Don't make it sound like some kind of freebee. Higher income states like NJ or NY will pay the lion share of it and probably not get back all they put in.

Oct. 10 2012 10:40 AM
Jessie Henshaw

Both private and government insurance use private medicial practices to provide services, no government providers really.

What answer would you get asking:
Should the profits of medical practices be used to increase the demand for medical services? (as most businesses use their profits)?

Oct. 10 2012 10:39 AM
Don Swanson from Long Branch

It defies common sense to believe more in a private insurance company whose mission is to "make a profit" rather than "to provide quality health care." Why do we in this country believe more in expensive profit seeking institutions for our most important and life protecting service. Perhaps the result of the poll is due to the 30-40 year long drumbeat of propaganda from the right that "government is bad, government is bad," government is bad." Medicare may not be perfect, but people realize that it has certainty of mission and in general provides care at less expense, because it does not have to pay the middle man expenses of advertising and profit for its stockholders.
Isn't it interesting that American discourse refuses to compare our inefficient system to other democracies that have lower cost, high quality government systems.

Oct. 10 2012 10:38 AM
Eddy from Chicago

Politicians encourage confusion between health care payment and health care delivery, making insurance sound as important as a doctor. It needn't be this difficult.

For-profit private health insurance is an unreformable mess, but politicians are happy to take money from this industry at the expense of the public's health. Competition among private insurance companies jacks prices up faster than the rate of inflation. Companies spend customer dollars on finding legal loopholes, fighting reform, generating advertising and grubbing for more dollars, all issues that would be moot under a government-paid plan.

The choice is between the mafia(s) you know versus an efficient, single-stop public provider.

Oct. 10 2012 10:38 AM


The Health "Insurance" Indurtry® takes your hard-earned money and then, DENIES you critical HEALTHCARE!!

Oct. 10 2012 10:38 AM
jg8912 from CT

Quick fact check Brian. One of your previous callers suggested that Romney's Medicare plan would give those under 55 a choice between traditional Medicare and a voucher-type system. This patently false. See which clearly states that for those under 55 "Medicare is reformed as a premium support system, meaning that existing spending is repackaged as a fixed-amount benefit to each senior that he or she can use to purchase an insurance plan". Romney's plan also calls for increasing the age of eligibility for Medicare.

Oct. 10 2012 10:38 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

mklw - that's the point.

Oct. 10 2012 10:37 AM

Imagine how many new small businesses would be started and new jobs created IF people were NOT held HOSTAGE by their employers in UNFULFILLING "jobs" because they CANNOT afford to "cover" their family's access to healthcare??!?!

IMAGINE if people were truly free to INNOVATE and CREATE!!!


Oct. 10 2012 10:35 AM
Jeffrey from Manhattan

The problem is the wording of the question. You should compare insurance cos. with "a government run program like Medicare For All.”

Oct. 10 2012 10:33 AM
Lance from Manhattan

People think medicare is great because they don't really see the costs or the abuse or care since its "other people's money". You should get a separate tax bill for your share of medicare (like you get for local school taxes). When everyone has to cut a check for it, it's popularity will go down, I can assure you.

Oct. 10 2012 10:32 AM

Since Medicare depends on everyone paying in, how can the program be fiunded and survive if people can opt out?

Oct. 10 2012 10:32 AM
jeff from nyc

why was there no question about single payer/medicaid for all preferance?

Oct. 10 2012 10:32 AM

This just goes to show how successful the Republican strategy over the years to demonize government in every possible way has succeeded. Even when something works, people deny it -- just because if it's government it must be bad. Also if you allow people to go back and forth between private insurance and Medicare, Medicare will get the sickest, least likely to afford or obtain insurance, which will drive up costs and put its finances even more at risk. Killing it from within.

Oct. 10 2012 10:31 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

Everybody would prefer private security, private transportation, and private schools for their kids - if they were of good value and was affordable.

The problem is, private health insurance in the US, is neither affordable nor efficient.

Oct. 10 2012 10:31 AM
LisaH from New Jersey

I think this poll shows peoples ignorance when it comes to where Medicare and Medicaid comes from. I think some people have no idea that it's a government run program.

Oct. 10 2012 10:31 AM

Imagine how many new hires there would be if business was NOT burdened with the expense of paying The Korrupt "Insurance" Industry® OUTRAGEOUS premiums to provide so-called health "insurance" for their employees??!?!?!!

Oct. 10 2012 10:31 AM
BK from Hoboken

Polls schmolls. The problem with polls is that most Americans are uneducated idiots. They hold up signs at rallies that say "keep the government out of my health care" even though they are of Medicare age. They want everything but don't want to pay for it. They like expanded coverage for older dependents, no lifetime caps, etc but then say they don't like Obamacare. Turn off "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" and pick up a newspaper and they might realize that is Obamacare. Jeez- this country has become so ill informed its ridiculous. And much of it has to do with the exceptionally poor "journalism" these days, which has pushed actual fact checking onto designated "fact checkers". Pathetic.

Oct. 10 2012 10:29 AM
Edward from NJ

Why is there a "But" in the headline of the poll results? The is no contradiction. Obamacare *is* private insurance.

Oct. 10 2012 10:28 AM

what private insurance company would even insure my staunch conservative family member who is 78 (much less at a price he can afford), who has had cancer three times (including pancreatic), has had a quadruple bypass, has high blood pressure, has high cholesterol, has ulcers, is borderline diabetic, has poor circulation in his legs, has had his carotid arteries cleared of their 90% blockages...really a voucher is going to cover it?

Oct. 10 2012 10:27 AM

How could anyone in their right mind prefer a for profit private insurance. People think that the insurance covered by their employer is free. They are confused.
People are fearful and suspicious of government and that is the why this polling is skewed.
Medicare works beautifully and should be enlarged to include everyone.

Oct. 10 2012 10:27 AM

RCUB_Alum: although your solution sounds great, I imagine this too wouldn't receive support from the GOP because private insurers wouldn't be able to compete (their argument against offering a public option).

Ideally we should all have access to a public option, and private insurers would be used for additional coverage.

Oct. 10 2012 10:27 AM

There are no details on a voucher system and considering the Republicans never wanted Medicare (or Social Security), how can we believe this is not just a way of getting rid of it?

Would those getting vouchers be individual insured or in some type of group? Huge difference in premiums between the two.

What would the premiums be for a 70, 75, 80, 85, 90 year old? I'm 58, single, in a group plan and pay around $9,000 a year - what will premiums be for those older as they really get sick? $25,000? What will the voucher be? $3,000, $20,000? Who knows?

On competition, we have a private health insurance system now and competition is not containing costs, so to claim this is ludicrous - increases have been are 10-30 percent a year, depending on the size of the group you're in (my last increases were 27, 20, 28, and 16 percent).

Privatizing will result in very few seniors with insurance.

Oct. 10 2012 10:27 AM
Barbara Salz from South Orange

Aren't we missing somethng here in thinking about private vs. government insurance? My beef is profit vs. non-profit insurance companies. I don't want my healthcare regulated by a for-profit company. They are responsible to their shareholders and bottom line rather than my best interests.

Oct. 10 2012 10:25 AM

Stephen Hemsley, CEO, UnitedHealth Group:

Total Compensation
$48.835 mil

5-Year Compensation
$169.30 mil

F*k'd UP!!

Oct. 10 2012 10:25 AM
Linda from Jersey Shore

Who actually gets to choose healthcare? If you work for an employer you get whatever they have. As a small business owner, I get whatever my healthcare advisor can get me.

Oct. 10 2012 10:24 AM
Susan Hellauer from Nyack NY

Private health insurance companies MUST go back to being nonprofits, like Blue Cross/Blue Shield used to be. This is KEY in making a system that uses private companies work -- especially at controlling costs.

Oct. 10 2012 10:24 AM
Kate from Washington Heights

What the listener doesn't realize is that Romney's plan is likely to spell the demise of Medicare, since all the healthy people will be skimmed off.

Oct. 10 2012 10:22 AM
Lian from Manhattan

I don't understand the confusion, Brian. You may like the current system if it costs you little (and your kids will pay for it), but you may also know that is not sustainable or the right way to do things. One can take advantage of the current system, but know it is not in the best long term interest of the country. Therefore you can get conflicting answers.

Oct. 10 2012 10:19 AM
John from NYC

A suggestion for this topic, maybe you could invite to speak on your show the directors of the documentary movie "Escape Fire - The Fight to Rescue American Healthcare".

Oct. 10 2012 10:19 AM

Aha, more proof that republicats don’t use logic while making that way through life!
With their faith in other myths im not really surprised

Oct. 10 2012 10:18 AM

Large fixed cost bureaucracies staffed by people who have little incentive to work really hard SHOULD be scary. My problem is that large fixed cost bureaucracies that award multi-million dollar salaries to their chief executives worry me even more.

Create a new service branch - the United States Medical Corps - financed out of a draw down of the defense budget. The new USMC will be tasked with providing basic health care services - to ANY citizen who asks for it. The focus will be on health maintenance rather than fee for service. As a new service branch it will have its own academy, training school and sub-specialty.

Private insurance will still be an option but no citizen's health needs will go unmet because of finances.

Oct. 10 2012 10:18 AM


This industry siphons-off BILLIONS from the AmeriKan Ekonomy® whilst screwing it's customer base by denying access to critical healthcare.

We don NOT need a CRAP insurance product, we need HEALTHCARE!!!


While 45 MILLION innocent Americans suffer without access to basic healthcare these Klowns™ live the high life:

William R. Berkley, W.R. Berkley Corp. ................................ $24,633,641
John R. Strangfeld, Prudential Financial Inc............................ $22,572,279
Gregory C. Case, Aon Corp. ................................................... $20,783,301
Ronald A. Williams, Aetna Inc. .............................................. $20,730,968
Jay S. Fishman, Travelers Cos. Inc.......................................... $20,415,060
John D. Finnegan, Chubb Corp. .............................................. $20,259,761
James M. Cracchiolo, Ameriprise Financial Inc. ..................... $18,025,000
Patrick A. Thiele, PartnerRe Ltd. ............................................ $17,124,446
Robert L. Moody Sr., American National Ins. Co.................... $16,483,156
Daniel P. Amos, AFLAC Inc. ................................................. $15,955,183


Oct. 10 2012 10:17 AM

This is honestly pretty bogus. The answers to these questions depends heavily on how they're asked.

When people are given a choice between "private insurance" and "government" they will choose private insurance. Change the word government to "medicare" or "public insurance" and the results flip.

People trust medicare, but hate government insurance even though they're the same thing. This is why the language matters (government takeover of healthcare vs medicare). This is why our healthcare reform is structured as government subsidies to private insurers (aka a total government takeover of the illustrious free market american system that, ignoring all of the statistics and studies, is the best in the world).

Oct. 10 2012 10:15 AM

Oh Brian, as a liberal you are making me sooo sad. This polling is just bad. For example, bullet point one begings, "Given a choice between..." and then it only state one side. "choice between" means comparing at least 2 things and that point doen't state what the choice is between. bad. And then, it sounds like you've asked if the choice is between keeping Medicare as it is or getting money to buy your own. But we all agree that something has to be done about Medicare or you wouldn't be doing this segment in the first place. Keeping medicare as it is is NOT an option, so why are you comparing that to the voucher scheme? Thats not right. You can't compare one thing to something that's not on the table - keeping medicare as it is. Bad, bad. I'm so dissapointed in this show.

Oct. 10 2012 10:14 AM

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