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Study finds majority of US physicians favor national health insurance

Support has grown 10 percent over past 5 years

The largest survey ever of American physicians’ opinions on health-care financing has found that 59 percent of doctors support government legislation to establish national health insurance while only 32 percent oppose it. A similar survey conducted by the IU researchers in 2002 found 49 percent of physicians supporting national health insurance and 40 percent opposing it.

The 2007 survey results demonstrate a significant change in the level of support for national health insurance. Nearly every medical specialty showed an increase in levels of support for national health insurance. With the exception of radiologists, anesthesiologists and surgical subspecialists, a majority of every medical specialty now support national health insurance.

The nationwide survey queried 2,200 physicians and was conducted by the Indiana University School of Medicine’s Center for Health Policy and Professionalism Research (CHPPR). The results appear in the April 1 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

The latest survey indicated that 83 percent of psychiatrists, 69 percent of emergency medicine physicians, 65 percent of pediatricians, 64 percent of internists, 60 percent of family physicians, and 55 percent of general surgeons favor government action to establish national health insurance.

There are more than 800,000 doctors in the U.S., so this 10 percent increase in support for national health insurance represents at least 80,000 physicians who have changed their minds about national health insurance, study authors Aaron E. Carroll, M.D., M.S., assistant professor of pediatrics and director of CHPPR, and Ronald T. Ackermann, M.D., MPH, assistant professor of medicine and associate director of CHPPR, report in their Annals of Internal Medicine paper.

“Many claim to speak for physicians and represent their views. We asked doctors directly and found that, contrary to conventional wisdom, most doctors support national health insurance,” said Dr. Carroll.

“As doctors, we find that our patients suffer because of increasing deductibles, copayments, and restrictions on patient care,” said Dr. Ackermann. “More and more, physicians are turning to national health insurance as a solution to this problem.”

Cindy Fox Aisen | EurekAlert!
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