The support among physicians for national health insurance (NHI) rose by 10 percentage points since 2002, according to a recent follow-up study titled "Support for National Health Insurance among U.S. Physicians: 5 Years Later" published in Annals of Internal Medicine. The latest study is derived from a survey conducted last year of 2,193 physicians across the U.S., which showed 59 percent of them "support government legislation to establish national health insurance," while 32 percent oppose it and nine percent are neutral.
While support was representative across all specialties, it was particularly strong among psychiatrists (83 percent), pediatric sub-specialists (71 percent), emergency medicine physicians (69 percent), general pediatricians (65 percent), general internists (64 percent) and family physicians (60 percent). Fifty-five percent of general surgeons support NHI, roughly doubling their level of support since 2002.
The concept of "incremental reform" was also measured among survey participants with fewer than 55 percent in support of this approach. Incremental reform is the concept of state- or federal-based programs that mandate or require consumers to buy health insurance from private insurance companies, in addition to, legislative measures providing tax incentives to businesses to provide coverage for their employees, or similar steps.
Aaron E. Carroll, M.D., director of Indiana University's Center for Health Policy and Professionalism Research and co-author of the study, commented: "Many claim to speak for physicians and reflect their views. We asked doctors directly and found that, contrary to conventional wisdom, most doctors support the government creating national health insurance."
A factor that seems to support those findings was that the nation's largest medical specialty group, the 124,000-member American College of Physicians, endorsed a single-payer national health insurance program for the first time in December. The current study by the Indiana University researchers is the largest survey ever conducted among doctors on the issue of healthcare financing reform. It is based on a random sampling of names obtained from the American Medical Association's master list of physicians throughout the country.