Americans are fed up with health care’s increasing costs, diminishing access, and varying quality of care. Conservatives, for their part, offer flawed “reforms” like Health Savings Accounts and consumer-driven health plans that could supposedly solve our health care problems by relying even more on the private marketplace to provide health care coverage.
But the public isn’t buying this approach. In an April Kaiser Family Foundation poll, 54 percent of the public preferred an approach that would make sure everyone is covered by health insurance to one that would focus on “making health insurance more available and affordable in the private marketplace, even if everyone doesn’t get covered” (42 percent).
Indeed, the public thinks, by 61 percent to 35 percent, that the government has a responsibility to make sure everyone has adequate health care. That view just isn’t consistent with leaving important decisions about who has access to care to the private marketplace.
Of course, the public’s preferences won’t stop conservatives from continuing to say that relying on the private marketplace is the real solution. But if they do, they should not expect the public to be terribly excited about their proposals. The public is looking for a path toward universal coverage and may have little patience for approaches that don’t take this goal seriously.