Public Supports Choice In the Medicare Program

Report Health Care Reform

Public Supports Choice In the Medicare Program

June 23, 2003 1 min read
The Heritage Foundation

There is broad support, including amongst seniors, for choice between traditional Medicare and private health plans in the Medicare program, according to a public opinion survey conducted by Zogby International, and released by The Galen Institute.


The survey, conducted June 18 - 21, showed the public is mindful of the repercussions of having the government manage a prescription drug benefit, fearing price controls that could lead to a decrease in the development of new drugs.  Another significant fear of those surveyed was that seniors would lose the drug coverage they currently have and be dropped into the new government plan.


Sample of the survey findings:


  • 82 percent of all voters surveyed and 67 percent of seniors agree that "seniors should have the option of picking a private health plan approved by the Medicare program to provide their health benefits." 
  • The complex drug benefit being debated in the Senate was described to those with drug coverage to ask if it would be better than the coverage they have now; 74 percent of seniors said no, and only 16percent said it would be better.
  • 66 percent are worried that "a government-provided prescription drug benefit might mean that some people could lose their private health care coverage and become more dependent on government funding."
  • 78 percent said "if the government gets into the business of providing a prescription drug benefit for Medicare…the government would eventually control what drugs are produced and developed."
  • If Congress must choose, 54 percent of voters said it's more important to pass "a more generous prescription drug benefit for low-income seniors who don't have any coverage now" than a plan that "provides some drug coverage for everyone, regardless of income" (42 percent).

Read the entire survey, Medicare vs. Private Health Care Plans (pdf)


The Heritage Foundation