Survey: More than 90 Percent Oppose Single Payer Medical Care

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While a narrow majority of 1,033 physicians surveyed by Merritt Hawkins strongly (42%) or somewhat (14%) support a “single payer healthcare system” in the U.S., more than 90% of 1,208 persons responding to an internet survey by the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons said they were opposed.

This included 669 of 737 (91%) physicians, 97 of 101 (97%) other medical professionals, and 357 of 370 (96%) nonmedical persons. Physicians under age 50 were slightly less likely to be opposed (89%) than those over 50 (91%).

Those opposed to single payer checked the following objections (most giving multiple reasons): increased rationing (87%), unaffordable (75%), harm to patient privacy (66%), unconstitutional (58%), other (28%). Reasons given for why they believe others favor single payer include: biased favorable coverage of socialized medicine in Europe and Canada (84%), indoctrination of young people in cultural Marxism (68%), lack of education in economics (68%), incorrect portrayal of our dysfunctional third-party system as “free market” (66%); and other (14%).

Reasons checked by those who favor single payer were: “physicians are overwhelmed by administrative burdens from multiple private insurers” (79%); “government-funded programs provide more value for less cost” (34%); “It isn’t fair that some people can get better care if they can afford to pay” (27%); and other (22%).

Nearly 400 participants submitted open-ended comments. An anesthesiologist felt that support for single payer is less than it appears because of greater media attention. One nonphysician suggested that insurers can make more money administering government programs than by taking on financial risk. With single payer, individuals cede control of their lives to government, wrote a pain-management physician. A neurologist observed that “employed physicians work hard not to see patients because they are already salaried.” A former Canadian physician noted that people became “beholden and subservient to government.”

A number of professionals and lay people commented on poor care in public systems abroad. One physician reported that though he grew up in a socialized system, his parents still paid out of pocket whenever they needed something. One lay person observed that there is no such thing as single payer—it would be millions of payers: taxpayers.

Merritt Hawkins noted increased support for single payer since its 2008 survey, but suggests there is a feeling of resignation rather than enthusiasm among some supporters. The AAPS survey shows the existence of strong, principled opposition in the vast majority of professionals and lay persons who subscribe to our email publications.

The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) is a national organization representing physicians in virtually all specialties and every state. Founded in 1943, AAPS has the motto “omnia pro aegroto,” which means “all for the patient.”

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