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Court's Ruling on Health Reform Divides Consumers and Doctors Alike
By Brenda Goodman, MA
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD
July 5, 2012 -- A WebMD survey of nearly 8,000 Americans reveals that people are divided over last week's Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act -- with 40% supporting it and 36% disagreeing with the highly anticipated decision.
A corresponding survey of health care professionals on Medscape/WebMD showed that health professionals disagreed just as sharply as consumers.
WebMD and Medscape conducted the surveys immediately following the court's ruling that upheld the health care reform law.
Many people indicated that they were worried that the law might drive up their health care costs (36%) or felt unsure how it might impact them personally (32%).
When asked what should happen to health reform in the future, most said they'd like to see the law either completely or partially repealed. But there was also surprising support for a single-payer, government-sponsored option.
Men were significantly more likely than women to disagree with the 5-4 decision, which upheld key parts of the health reform law but also let states opt out of a major expansion of the Medicaid program. Men were also significantly more likely to say they want to see the entire law repealed.
Age also seemed to shade the results. Compared to older adults, those under age 35 were more likely to voice uncertainty about the health reform and its future. They were more likely to say, for example, that they didn't know whether or not they agreed with the Supreme Court's decision. They were also more likely than older adults to admit that they weren't sure how they would be personally impacted by the law. They also said they felt unsure about what should happen next.
More than 5,500 women and 2,400 men took part in the online survey. Nearly 75% of respondents were between the ages of 45 and 74.
- 48% said they had health insurance through an employer.
- 35% indicated that they were covered by Medicare.
- 21% indicated that they bought health insurance on their own.
- 8% said they had no health insurance.
- 7% reported another type of government-sponsored health insurance.
- 6% were covered by Medicaid.
The majority of respondents were parents, and 62% had children who were older than age 17.
When asked if they supported the Supreme Court's decision on the Affordable Care Act:
- 40% said yes.
- 36% said no. Men were more likely to say they disagreed with the decision.
- 23% indicated they weren't sure. Women were more likely to say they felt unsure.
- 1% said they didn't care.
When asked how the Supreme Court's decision would impact them:
- 36% said they were worried their health care costs would rise.
- 32%, overall, said they didn't know how they would be affected. But more than 36% of adults under 35 said they didn't know what the personal impacts of the law would be.
- 24% said they would not be impacted.
- 8% said they were worried about losing health care benefits promised by the law.
When asked what should happen next with health reform:
- 19% said the entire law should be repealed, with stronger support for this option among men and adults over age 35.
- 18% said only parts of the law should be repealed.
- 12% said the law should stand as it is.
- 28% supported a Medicare-type health plan for people of all ages.
- 23%, overall, said they didn't know what the next steps should be. But more than 30% of adults younger than 35 said they felt uncertain about what should happen next.
Doctors as Divided as Patients Over Supreme Court ACA Decision
Do doctors feel the same way as their patients? Medscape/WebMD asked. More than 3,000 doctors responded.
The result: As did patients, doctors split right down the middle. Just over 49% approved of the Supreme Court's decision on the ACA. Just under 49% disapproved.
Even so, only 1 in 5 doctors believed the decision would lead to improved patient care. The rest said they didn't know or that it didn't apply to them.
Primary care doctors were most opposed to the decision, with 55.5% disapproving and 41.1% approving. Internists were the most in favor, with about 60% approving and 37.7% disapproving.
Some 34% of doctors would prefer a single-payer system. More than 25% of doctors said the health system could be improved by making it more market driven, and 24% of doctors think government should completely stay out of health care.
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