New High: 56 Percent Say it is Not Govt’s Job to Ensure Americans Have Healthcare

Just 5 years ago Gallup found only 28 percent of Americans thought government did not have the responsibility to “make sure all Americans have healthcare coverage.” However, today Gallup finds the highest number since it began asking the question—56 percent—say government does not have a responsibility to ensure all American have healthcare coverage. Even a majority (55 percent) of Independents say government does not have this responsibility. 

Source: Gallup

Throughout much of the 2000s, a solid majority of Americans believed it was government’s job to ensure all Americans have healthcare coverage, hitting a high in 2006 when 69 percent agreed while 28 percent said it was not government’s responsibility. However, after 2006, Gallup measured a steady decline among those who believed government should ensure healthcare for all.

By the time Congress began debating remaking the American health care system in 2009, Americans were evenly split and remained so until 2011.

However, once actual implementation of the Affordable Care Act/Obamacare got underway, the public for the first time since Gallup began asking the question diverged against government’s role in health care. Between 2011 and 2013 the share of Americans who believe it is not government’s job to ensure healthcare coverage increased +10 points from 46 to 56 percent.

Not only the glitch-ridden roll out of the healthcare law explains this results, but partisanship also. In 2000, only a slim majority (53 percent) of Republicans believed government should not be responsible for healthcare coverage and 42 percent believe it did. Just 13 short years later, while also losing most of Congress and the presidency, 86 percent of Republicans say its not government job to ensure healthcare coverage and 12 percent say it is. These are roughly 30-point swings in roughly a decade.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Just 5 years ago Gallup found only 28 percent of Americans thought government did not have the responsibility...

    And now it's 56%? I guess actually seeing what it looks like when government ensures Americans have healthcare will do that.

  • ||

    We had to pass the act to find out what's in it that everyone hates.

  • cw||

    Why do so many people believe health insurance coverage = affordable health care?

  • wwhorton||

    Because the Progressives won the battle of language. Even ostensibly libertarian political magazines are using Progressive phraseology. Think of how strange it would sound if someone said that the government had a duty to provide universal automobile access. Or universal home repair access.

  • Zeb||

    Because most people get it from their employer, so they never see the true cost. Also because most people with health insurance can indeed afford their healthcare expenses.

    "Affordable" doesn't necessarily mean a good deal.

  • ||

    Too bad these folks weren't possessed with that kind of clarity when they elected in sweeping majorities in the legislative and executive branches of politicians from a party with a major platform of providing universal health coverage.

    *American voter logic*

  • KPres||

    I think all the publicity for single-payer is why you're seeing this shift. And the way I mean that is this: People used to think "make sure all Americans have healthcare coverage" meant Medicaid, and they were OK with it. Now they think it means single-payer, and they're not OK with that.

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    I'll bet at least 40% of that 56% group are on Medicare.

  • CampingInYourPark||

    I'll bet almost 5% of the population that opposed slavery in 1861 were slaves.

  • KPres||

    That's fine with me. I don't have a problem with the people taking the handouts. After all, they paid the taxes. I only have a problem with the people who vote for handouts....people like you.

  • ||

    That's NOT the real question that's been debated over the last 10+ years. The debate is around denials and/or cost-prohibitive coverage based on pre-existing conditions. I think the question is too broad and obfuscates the real debate.

  • CampingInYourPark||

    And I thought the debate was REALLY about Sandra Fluke getting free birth control! I totally missed the real debate!

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    That is from Team Red - who impulsively turn everything into an anti-vagina issue.

    Health insurers have no issue including the Pill in coverage unless they are fundie Aborto-fascists.

  • John||

    Christfag!!

  • Restoras||

    You forgot BOOSHPIG!!

  • CampingInYourPark||

    That is from Team Red

    Team Red invited Sandra Fluke to congress to testify about getting free birth control?

  • CampingInYourPark||

    Health insurers have no issue including the Pill in coverage

    Insurers have no issue insuring almost anything. Mandating birth control coverage for everyone has nothing to do with whether an insurer would do it or not.

  • John||

    Don't confuse the mendacious little retard with facts.

  • wareagle||

    right...it's Team Red's fault that a 30-year old student at Jesuit-run law school is agitating for free birth control.

  • Rhywun||

    No, it's just many millions of people who have no use for them who have an issue - but who gives a shit about them, right?

  • Being Waterboarded||

    Doesn't matter. After we've had government mandated health coverage for 5 or 10 years, all those kids growing up with it will simply accept is as a standard role for government, and will believe there was no such thing as health care before government got involved.

    I was in debating the role of government once a couple years ago with a very conservative in law. This person was very much set against government involvement in health care, but thought public schools were an absolute necessity and of great benefit. I pointed out that his position on these two issues implies he believe people had a right to "education" but no right to life-saving surgery (of course I don't think either education or health care are rights). He was somewhat shocked by this revelation. I concluded that his positions were born out of the fact that public education had always existed during his lifetime, while full-blown government health care was still on the table.

  • wareagle||

    public education is included in the constitutions of most states. It is in mine and it actually says that there is a right to a sound public education.

    Not disputing your basic premise; it speaks to why socialized medicine exists in many places - it's all people have ever known.

  • ||

    There's a very strong argument to be made that Education provide an incredible boost to societal wealth. This can be used to justified public funding of Education. Keeping people alive provides no such societal benefit. It's purely an individual benefit. The whole "saves the system costs" is predicated on having social funding of health care in the first place, which itself remains an individual benefit.

    I don't think you can compare the two at all.

  • ||

    "This can be used to justified public funding of Education."

    I don't see how. If something greatly benefits society as you say, then they will spend their money on it voluntarily.

  • ||

    C'mon. Societal benefits rarely have directly obvious benefits to the individual. It could be argued that there are limited benefits to having parents pay for the children's education. Do parent's have any direct responsibility for the child once they reach adulthood? What's their rational incentive for providing a baseline achievement?

    Yes, there's typically a very strong emotional incentive, but there's no actual obligation to take responsibility for your children once they reach adulthood.

    Besides, public funding of Eduction is a net societal benefit regardless of if you're a parent or not. So everyone who's not a parent should free-load on those who raise, and pay for the Education of, future productive citizens? And the poor who can't afford it...fuck 'em?

    There's an undeniably large public benefit to public funding of Education.

  • Being Waterboarded||

    Wow. First, who the hell is 'society'? Since when did "HE" get the right to any benefits?

    Second, I can come up with all sorts of examples of how your "undeniably large public benefit to public funding of education" is bunk.

    Third, you've simultaneously committed two logical fallacies: Bastiat's broken window fallacy and the Argumentum ad Ignorantiam fallacy. Congratulations.

  • Rob||

    BW, would you agree - in principal - having a functionally literate population is a net positive? If you do then the debate simply becomes a matter of how we best attain this goal. If you don't believe a literate population provides a net benefit I would like to hear your reasoning.

  • ||

    "would you agree - in principal - having a functionally literate population is a net positive?"

    See: Smack MacDougal|11.20.13 @ 2:14PM|#

    You conflate education with intellect. Even worse than that, you conflate publicly funded education with intellect. As I've stated below, government force, in no case, produces a net positive for society as a whole. It cannot give with one hand any more than what it takes with another. There is much that is unseen. Perhaps there are more cost effective ways than schools to educate our children. These questions are always better left to market forces than the whims of central planners.

  • Being Waterboarded||

    I agree that a functionally literate population is a net positive for most individuals from my personal perspective, yes. But I do NOT agree that the debate simply becomes a matter of how we best attain this goal. Consider this: we might best attain this goal by putting a gun to our childrens' heads and forcing them to read classical literature for 15 hrs per day.

    No, I am not a utilitarian. I think you are asking the wrong question entirely (i.e., 'how best we achieve this goal'). The correct question is whether it is moral for your neighbor to use coercion through their proxy government agent to forcibly take money from you to pay for your neighbors education. The ONLY reason to have government involved in education is for coercive purposes - most notably, forcing those that otherwise would not pay to pony up the dough. That is not moral, regardless of the utilitarian benefit. Furthermore, a little reading on the matter will demonstrate that state-funded education does little to enhance education of the populace (and likely detracts). See the modern, well-studied examples in several African countries that have recently started public education programs (UN funded, too).

  • ||

    That is not moral, regardless of the utilitarian benefit.

    Your argument is a general extension of the anti-taxation argument. It does not speak specifically to public funding of Education. That does not make your argument wrong. It just makes it irrelevant. If you're arguing against the morality of taxation, then discussing the expenditure of such taxation is a moot point.

    If you want to argue about the morality of taxation as it specifically relates to the public funding of education, then go for it. But you did not argue that point, nor did I argue that public funding was inherently moral.

  • Being Waterboarded||

    Of course my argument is a general extension of the anti-taxation argument. All taxation is immoral as it is theft... no more, no less. If you read my original post that started this debate, you will see that my precise point was that the forced transfer of wealth for healthcare and the forced transfer of wealth for public education are equally wrong. I simply noted that there are many (which became obvious in the comments) that are against government involvement in healthcare, but are just peachy about the involvement in education. That is a horribly inconsistent view to take, and implies that individuals have an inherent right to education but not health. Both involve theft, simply because government is involved.

    You argued that there is a net societal benefit from public funding (i.e., forcibly taking money from individuals to make them pay for something they do not want to pay for). 'Society' has no rights, and thus cannot benefit from anything. Thus, public funding of schools benefits those individuals that have lots of kids attending them (assuming the education has value), but certainly does not help those individuals that had their wealth stolen to pay for said schools.

    Even if you argued that public funding helped more than it harmed, it would still be wrong. Would you argue that it would be moral to forcibly take all of Bill Gates' money against his will, and distribute it to the rest of American citizens? It would only hurt one person, and help many.

  • ||

    I think an extension to this would be that you could never conclusively argue that public funding helped more than it harmed. What would have been accomplished with Bill Gates' wealth under voluntary transfer? You don't know, and therefore you can never justify public funding of schools or anything else on the grounds that it offers a net benefit.

  • ||

    Government force destroys wealth. It does not provide a net benefit. See broken window fallacy. It is up to individuals to decide what to do with their resources. Perhaps it never occurred to you that responsible people limit the number of children they decide to have based on what they can afford. You pose the question as "So everyone who's not a parent should free-load?" The real question is "So people who aren't parents should exist to subsidize someone else's children that they chose to produce?"

  • Emmerson Biggins||

    In other words, FYTW.

  • John||

    No the position is the result of peopleseeing public schools work for a majority of people and government healthcare fail. There a lot of good public schools. People see that and want to keep them and think their existence means the bad ones can be fixed. In contrast no one looks to the VA and thinks that is what they want

    People do think. If you think people are so stupid that they will just accept anything they gfow up with, you should be a liberal and support government by top men to control them.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    There's also the rationale that democracy needs an educated electorate to prevent a slide into populist mob rule.

    Public education has failed in that regard lately, but it is a legitimate rationale for a government role in educating children.

  • Being Waterboarded||

    By your rationale, you could argue that a democracy needs healthy people capable of casting votes.

    Public education is an abomination equally as much as public healthcare/insurance - you are simply conditioned to the former.

    As a proponent of the NAP, government involvement in both education and healthcare are both morally wrong and indefensible.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    As a proponent of the NAP, government involvement in both education and healthcare are both morally wrong and indefensible.

    Yeah, I don't subscribe to suicidal libertarianism.

  • ||

    "Yeah, I don't subscribe to suicidal libertarianism."

    As if there's anything suicidal about free markets in education. Because god knows, if someone didn't steal everyone's money, there would be no schools or ROADZ.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    By your rationale, you could argue that a democracy needs healthy people capable of casting votes.

    No you can't.

    Public education is an abomination equally as much as public healthcare/insurance - you are simply conditioned to the former.

    No I'm not. I think it is an abomination as actually practiced today. Something like 50% of kids fail to graduate from high school and many of the ones that do are functionally illiterate and innumerate. The point has become indoctrinating kids into a socialist world view.

    None of which obviates the observation that democracy is only viable with an educated electorate that will not be deceived by demagogues.

  • DJK||

    So, you recognize the problems and understand that they're a result of big government policies...yet you think that government should still have a role? That's mind-boggling.

  • Smack MacDougal||

    "...the observation that democracy is only viable with an educated electorate that will not be deceived by demagogues.

    ~ VG Zaytsev

    That bit there democracy is only viable ... is non-sequitur. In short, it does not follow that educated electoratedemocracy viability

    A scant 237 years ago, almost no Americans were educated. Today, almost all Americans have sat for no less than 1,620 days of education, most have sat for at least 1,980 days of education. A bit more than 30% of all Americans have sat for at least 2,573 days of education.

    Clearly, Americans are highly-educated. How is that working out for everyone?

    It seems as if you are arguing that Americans aren't educated enough to your liking or to the degree to which you believe is necessary for your hallucination to work.

    Further, it seems as if you conflate education with intellect.

  • Being Waterboarded||

    How do public schools "work" for a majority of people? Compare the education of publicly schooled students of today with those that had no formal education (not even private schooling) of 150 years ago. Hell, the African American literacy rate was higher under slavery than it is now [citation found in the book Underground History of American Ed].

  • ||

    First of all, that's just stupid. You have to compare the Publicly Schooled of today with the no formal education of today. You can't construct an argument that compares across boundaries.

    Secondly, although John did say "Public Schools", I would argue that in essence the argument is about "Public Funding". The efficacy of Public Schools is completely separate from the argument for Public Funding. And ultimately, the comparison you are discussion is between Public Funding of Education vs. Public Funding of Healthcare. If you're going to specifically talk about Public Schools, then you would need to be comparing that to Public Healthcare (a la NHS) which the US doesn't have at all.

  • John||

    Most people are happy with their kid's school. If they are happy then it works. Who are you to say otherwise? You don't know what is best for them. They do.

    As I said take your I know what is best fir the stupid masses shit elsewhere.

  • ||

    "Who are you to say otherwise?"

    Our position exactly. Let people decide what to do with the money they earned. If it's schools, then let them spend it on schools. Who are you to take people's money and tell them it's going to be spent on schools, regardless of what they planned to do with it?

  • MJGreen||

    Yeah, that was quite the slide into Tonyism there. "Who are you to stop people from taking your money and spending it on public education?"

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    Those are separate questions:

    1) Are you happy with your child's public education?

    2) Would you still pay for your child's public education if you had to pay it at full cost?

    Both different questions, potentially with different answers -- and most people only get to asking the first question. That doesn't make them stupid; it makes them self-interested.

    Libertarians are insufferable when they start in on the "woe is me, everyone surrounding me is so stupid" tirades.

  • ||

    And if it is in fact the case that some parents decide to put their money to other uses besides schooling, that is not justification for public funding of education. There's this thing called scarcity and competing choices. You should look into it.

  • Smack MacDougal||

    It's woe is I and not the wrongly expressed woe is me as you have done as well as Shakespeare did.

    Would you say Me is woe or I am woe?

    Perhaps you're in need of education to straighten out your misunderstanding of English.

    Good luck The Immaculate Trouser.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    "Most people are happy with their kid's school. If they are happy then it works."

    Bullshit logic.

  • Emmerson Biggins||

    Who are you to say otherwise?

    the guy being forced at gun point to pay for political indoctrination that I find disgusting.

    the guy who'd love to be a math teacher if a free market for such a thing existed.

  • ||

    "you should be a liberal and support government by top men to control them."

    If you support the existence of public education, then that is your stance.

  • John||

    Not it is not you half wit. People like their schools. You seem to think you know better than they do. Top men saybpuublic schools are wrong. Fuck top men. Let people decide for themselves.

  • ||

    If people like their schools, then they should be free to keep the tax dollars that pay for them and choose what to do with that money themselves. Top men steal people's money and tell them it's going to be spent on schools.

  • Emmerson Biggins||

    public schools != "letting people decide for themselves." It's the exact opposite of that actually.

    Maybe the the utilitarian arguments are factually accurate, given some very reasonable seeming definition of utility. But the underlying reasoning is still "FYTW". I wish people could at least just own it if they are pro-public school.

  • Being Waterboarded||

    I have no problem with people liking their school and choosing their school I have a problem with those same people using government coercion to force their neighbor to PAY for that school against their will. If the public schools are well-liked by parents, then they can survive in the free market (i.e., sans government funds extracted by the barrel of a gun) just fine.

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    John is right. I am not a big fan of K-12 public education in its current form, but there are reasons for it related to 1) progress of the arts and sciences, and 2) the fact that in a republic with universal suffrage, voters with some minimum baseline of knowledge and civic duty are required. Look at Afghanistan's literacy rate, and tell me that there is any reasonable expectation that its citizens will employ the franchise effectively.

  • DJK||

    In regards to number 2, study after study shows that the average, publicly-educated American voter simply does not have the minimum baseline knowledge to effectively participate in civic debates and elections.

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    ...which is why I don't support publicly-funded education in its current form -- or at all, if we want to go back to a limited rather than universal franchise.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "56 Percent Say it is Not Govt’s Job to Ensure Americans Have Healthcare"

    Some of this may suggest growing support (or acceptance) for the individual mandate.

    Some of them don't think the government owes people healthcare anymore; now they think individuals owe it to the government to buy their own.

  • John||

    Some of it is retarded dem partisans like shreek deciding that because obamacare is destroying people's insurance, it must no longerbe important for the government to provide insurance. Dear leader is never wrong.

  • AlgerHiss||

    I don’t for one second believe these poll numbers. The country is now populated with sheep that like to sound tough, but in reality, love massive, huge government. Hell, I think the French have more respect for freedom.

    Land of the free and home of the brave? You’ve got to be one dumb son-of-a-bitch to believe that crap.

  • ||

    Has anyone considered that Uncle Sugar could have given every single American a million bucks in a medical savings account at half the cost of the obamacare website alone?

    Holy fuckity fuck. Of course that would be a disaster, but also only half the disaster that we have now.

  • Troglodyte Rex||

    A million bucks times 330 million people is 330 trillion dollars...won't be worth much of anything if they went that route.

  • ||

    oops

  • LynchPin1477||

    While the results are encouraging, the fluctuations seem to me to show that Americans don't really know what they want their government to do. If you really and truly think government has a responsibility to provide health care, then the ACA should only affect how you think that responsibility should be fulfilled, not whether that responsibility exists.

    That is important because small-government types shouldn't assume this is a long-term trend. This gives us an opportunity to maybe start changing the culture so that it is lasting, but we have to work towards that goal.

  • ||

    Meaning roughly 30% of Americans have no principles. Their response is based solely on how they think something will impact them personally. When they thought they were going to get free stuff from other people, the answer was yes. When they saw their premiums go up, the answer was no. Morality implications are not a factor.

  • Being Waterboarded||

    Spot on.

  • GroundTruth||

    Once again, the majority decides they don't like the party just a bit too late to realize that the entry door is a one way... they can't exit after they've entered (and dragged the rest of us along with them). It's sort of like retiring from the Mafia; you can't.

  • Todd Walton||

    Just 5 years ago Gallup found only 28 percent of Americans...

    That doesn't seem to be what the chart says. It looks to me like the 28% falls in 2006.

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Video Game Nation: How gaming is making America freer – and more fun.
  • Matt Welch: How the left turned against free speech.
  • Nothing Left to Cut? Congress can’t live within their means.
  • And much more.

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement