Indiana University


Do Americans believe the “myths” about health care reform? Yes, they do.

Researchers from Indiana University’s Center for Health Policy and Professionalism Research (CHPPR) and the Center for Bioethics (IUCB) have found that, in general, a majority of Americans believe the controversial assertions being made about the health care reforms being proposed by the White House.

The White House and others have spent considerable time in recent weeks trying to dispel many “myths” about their proposed health insurance reform plans.  But are their efforts working?  Do Americans believe these controversial assertions about death panels, the negative impact on small business, and euthanasia counseling?  To test this idea, researchers from CHPPR and the IUCB asked Americans whether they believe some of the most commonly heard assertions about the proposed health insurance reform.  Findings reveal that the White House may indeed be losing this battle. 

Market Strategies International conducted the survey on behalf of CHPPR and the IUCB during the period between August 13 and August 18, 2009.  A total of 600 adults, ages 18 and older, living in the 48 contiguous states and the District of Columbia responded to this survey.   The margin of sampling error for results based on the total sample is plus or minus 4 percentage points. 


How involved will the government be in your health care?
Respondents were asked about four controversial assertions currently receiving attention in the media regarding how involved the government will be in personal health care decisions if the reforms being proposed pass.

The Federal Government will become directly involved in making personal health care decisions for you.



The Federal Government will make decisions about whether you will be treated or not.



A government official will be put in charge of your medical records.



The government will require the elderly to make decisions about how and when they will die.



How will your current health insurance coverage be affected?
Five controversial assertions were read to respondents regarding how the proposed reforms, if passed, will impact our current system of health insurance coverage. 

Millions of Americans will lose their current health insurance.



Small businesses will be hurt.



Private insurance coverage will be eliminated.


Employer-sponsored insurance coverage will be eliminated.



A public insurance option will put private insurance companies out of business.



Who and what will be covered?
Much has also been said by both sides of the political aisle about who and what types of services and treatments will be covered if reforms pass.  Respondents were asked about five of the most commonly heard statements regarding coverage.

Health care services such as treatments, physicians, and care will be rationed.



Taxpayers will be required to pay for abortions.



All illegal immigrants will be covered.



Wait times for health care services like surgery will increase.



The elderly will have to undergo euthanasia counseling every 5 years.



How much will reforms cost and how will we pay for it?
The costs of reform and how these reforms will be financed has been a focal point of much debate.  Respondents were asked whether they believed five assertions about the cost and financing of health care reform.

A “public option” that competes with private insurance will be too expensive for the United States to afford.



A  “public option” will increase health care costs, not lower them.



A “public option” will actually increase premiums for Americans with private insurance.



Reforms will cover more Americans by making cuts to Medicare.



Tort reform, which would limit the amount of money awarded to injured patients in malpractice cases, will decrease health care costs.



Bottom Line
A surprisingly large proportion of Americans believe what the White House has dubbed ‘myths’ about health care reform.  Ironically, we found that the least believed myths, such as those related to mandatory end-of-life decisions and euthanasia counseling, are those that have gained the most traction in the media and have resulted in changes to the House bill.  It’s perhaps not surprising that more Republicans harbor these beliefs than Democrats. What is surprising is just how many Republicans – and Independents – believe them.  If the White House hopes to convince the majority of Americans that they are misinformed about health care reform, there is much work to be done.


Survey Methodology and Full Report

Download a full report of polling results.