A new survey from NBC News/Wall Street Journal is the perfect example of the utter worthlessness of public polling as it relates to the implementation of government policy.
In the poll, which covers numerous political topics, one question stands out: “Would you favor or oppose a single-payer health care system in which all Americans would get their health insurance from one government plan that is financed by Taxes?”
To this question, 47% said they “favored” such a system, 46% said they “opposed,” and 7% said they were “not sure.” However, when pollsters added a bit of specificity to the question, the results changed rather dramatically.
To those who said they favored a single-payer health care system, a follow-up question was asked: “And, if you learned that virtually all health care costs would be covered, but it would eliminate employer-provided health plans and there would be only one government plan, would you favor or oppose a single-payer health care system?”
This more specified question changed the results by more than ten points. The final results are as follows: 36% said they would “favor” a single-payer plan, 55% said they would “oppose,” and 9% were “not sure.”
With just a single added detail, the number of people who claimed to favor a single-payer system dropped by 11%, and opposition increased by 9%.
The debate over health care has been so glossy and shallow that many Americans don't actually know the gritty details. These details, were they to be widely understood, would likely sway the nation.
Even something as simple as the fact that a single-payer system would eliminate employer-based insurance was enough to give “opposition” the healthy majority. The poll leaves out the massive tax increases, deterioration in quality of care, and rationing seen in other countries with single-payer health care systems. Imagine if those details were included.
If the costs (financially and otherwise) of single-payer health care were properly articulated and thoroughly explained, it’s likely an even larger majority of Americans wouldn't jive with the idea of such a system.
The next time a progressive tells you that a majority of Americans favor European-style single-payer health care systems, show them the NBC/WSJ poll, and ask them if Americans truly understand the cost/benefit ratio of such systems.
This poll shows that unless the public is well-informed, polling them about complex issues is less than worthless.