Doctors Support the Public Option
Doctors overwhelmingly support either a public option or a public system. Indeed, when you add the two groups together, it's more than 70 percent of respondents. There were some differences across specialties, but not a lot: about 75 percent of primary care doctors favored a public option or public system, while about 67 percent of surgeons felt similarly.
Next, the survey asked about opening Medicare up to individuals between 55 and 64. Support overwhelmed opposition by more than 2 to 1. The public sector didn't fare so well when doctors were asked to directly compare their experience with Medicare and private insurers, however. Private insurers got higher marks for ease of paperwork, speed of reimbursements and adequacy of payments. In fact, they got much higher marks for adequacy of payments. Medicare, however, won out for the ease with which patients got treatments and the autonomy it offered doctors. Overall, 41 percent of physicians preferred private insurers and 21 percent favored Medicare. All in all, a pretty good showing for the public plans, both existing and proposed.
Perhaps the most surprising data point in the poll is that the traditional conservatism of the American Medical Association appears to be crumbling: There was virtually no difference between their membership and other respondents to the poll. That might explain why they backtracked so quickly on their opposition to the public option earlier this year. The other interesting factoid is that the survey was conducted in waves over the summer, but despite the tumult, there were no significant differences between the various groups of respondents. Doctors, it seems, know what they think. And they think a public competitor to the private insurance industry is a good idea.