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For Immediate Release
Contact: Jamie Court (310) 392-0522 ext 327 | Jerry Flanagan ext 309
January 16, 2008

New Poll: Only 16% of Californians Support Mandatory Purchase Of Private Health Insurance; 71% Behind Regulation of Premium Increases

Potential Costs To Consumers Key Factor In Voter Opposition Compared To Other Polls

Santa Monica, CA — Less than one in five California voters (16%) support legislation, backed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez, that requires proof of private health insurance when they are told they might have to pay some of the premium costs, according to a new poll.

Overall, nearly two-thirds (63%) were opposed to the legislation when told insurers had no limit on how much they could charge. Only one-in-three (32%) supported the mandatory purchase plan even if insurers’ premiums were regulated by the state.

The results demonstrate that majority support expressed by Californians in other polls for “requiring nearly all Californians to have insurance” collapses when voters are told that they would have to pay premium costs if their employer does not fully pay or they are not eligible for government subsidies.

Read the full results of the poll at http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/hcpoll.pdf

"When confronted with the unmistakable reality that they may have to pay health insurers for premiums, voters strongly oppose mandatory private health insurance," said Jamie Court, a director of the Campaign For Consumer Rights, which paid for the poll. "Cost to the consumer is the key detail that the Governor and Speaker have failed to be forthcoming about. Voters view having insurance very differently from having to buy it from private health insurers."

Consumer advocates recently wrote to legislators explaining how the costs to consumers under the Núñez/Schwarzenegger proposal. Read the letter at http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/KuehlLetterOpposeABX1_1.pdf

Voters surveyed overwhelmingly support measures that require greater accountability for health insurers, such as limiting the amount patients must pay out of pocket when sick (75%) and requiring insurers to get approval from state regulators for rate increases (71%). These provisions are not included in the Núñez/Schwarzenegger legislation scheduled to be voted on by the California Senate Health Committee on January 23, 2008.

The most popular idea with voters was allowing any Californian to buy the same health coverage available to the governor and other elected officials (81%).

The Campaign for Consumer Rights is the sister 501(c) 4 ballot measure campaign organization of the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights. Grove Insights Ltd. conducted the poll of 600 likely voters between January 10 and 12.

"Voters believe the state is putting the cart before the horse with these mandatory purchase proposals," said pollsters Lisa Grove and Ben Patinkin. "When asked which should come first, greater accountability in how private health insurance companies set their rates or a mandatory requirement that every Californian purchase insurance, regardless of cost, nearly three-quarters (72%) believe greater accountability should come first. Only one in 10 (12%) say they believe the mandatory purchase of health insurance is a higher priority for those in charge of solving the state's health care woes."

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