Medicare Poll Bias

Reader comment on: Another Slanted New York Times Poll

Submitted by Bob Dignan (United States), Aug 25, 2012 13:30

I can see that the manner in which the questions were asked may have predisposed some responders to answer in a certain way. I can also see the apparent inconsistancy between responders saying Medicare is a good thing as is, and that Medicare needs major (12%) or minor (48%) spending reductions. I am not sure about the disparity between the poll questions and what is being proposed by Republicans, since I am not aware of the specific proposals referenced.

That said, I think that most people who are on Medicare view it as a worthwhile system and would be loath to give it up. This includes most of my conservative friends. I think most people would favor some spending cuts, improved efficiencies or elimination of waste and fraud in the abstract, but would look closely at any specific proposals that might affect their benefits.

Using the government as the insurer, as is the case with Medicare, has its pros and cons, but most people are looking for some kind of system that will ensure that they are not bankrupted by health care costs. At present Medicare seems to provide this for seniors and some others. My personal feeling is that Medicare might work well for the general population. The problem from my perspective is how much it would cost and how it might be paid for.

Health care costs for people who are not seniors or otherwise qualified for Medicare are normally lower than for those enrolled in Medicare, but they can still be substantial, with the potential to be come catastrophic with little or no notice. This is what we all want to avoid.

Using government as insurer eliminates the need for costly marketing and billing activities associated with private insurers. It seems clear that it does not make sense for government to cover all medical problems, especially those that may be viewed as "discretionary" (e.g. cosmetic surgery, massage, etc.). It seems that people should be able to pay for these kinds of things on their own or to buy private insurance to cover risk, share costs, etc.

The Republican plans I have seen would leave large segments of the population uncovered or inadequately covered. It seems to me that people who would currently be eligible for Medicare in ten years would be unlikely to knowingly support such plans, although they might well be convinced to vote for them and then find out later that they do not provide adequate coverage.

I do see polarization as an issue. I also see the hunger for election/re-election as an issue. It seems to me that our elected leaders are concerned mostly with their own political survival and that this takes precidence over any concerns they may have for their constituents or the nation (or state or city, as the case may be) as a whole. I am not sure how this should or could be addressed, but it makes me less than optimistic about the future of our country.

One reason to have some hope, it seems to me, is the example of China. I recently read a book about the rise to power of Mao and his rule once he got there. It seems to me that if China can survive the depredations of this monster and emerge as a global economic power, there is hope for any country, no matter how bogged down in selfishness it may appear to be.

I really believe that the people of this country are in general well meaning, although some of the things I hear being said, even by friends and relatives, make me cringe. I feel somewhat confident that the country will recover from the next set of elections, no matter who wins, and that once the policy failures of the next administration become obvious, another "corrective" turn will be made. Maybe this is the best that we can hope for.

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