Another Opportunity to Bash the Usual Healthcare Villains

The debate over healthcare reform has stirred up opinion about the current setup. That’s OK for doctors and nurses, who are well regarded anyhow. But it’s tough on less-popular players, such as Big Pharma and health insurers.

That’s clear from a recently released NPR/Kaiser Family Foundation/Harvard School of Public Health survey, conducted in August and September. It asked respondents to say how much confidence that have in various institutions “to recommend the right thing for the country when it comes to healthcare.” The best ranking went to “nurses groups,” with 79 percent of respondents expressing confidence (33 percent “a great deal, 46 percent “a fair amount”) that they’d do the right thing. “Doctors groups” also fared well (24 percent “a great deal,” 41 percent “a fair amount”).

By contrast, fewer than half had such confidence in “health-insurance companies” (9 percent “a great deal,” 26 percent “a fair amount”) or pharmaceutical companies (10 percent “a great deal,” 21 percent “a fair amount”).

Walmart takes its lumps (9 percent “a great deal,” 16 percent “a fair amount”). But so does labor, in the form of the AFL-CIO (7 percent “a great deal,” 19 percent “a fair amount”). Small business has generally been more resistant to healthcare reform than has big business, but it continues to fare well in public opinion in this context. Sixty percent of respondents voiced confidence in “small-business groups” to recommend the right thing about healthcare (24 percent “a great deal,” 36 percent “a fair amount”). The numbers were markedly worse for “groups representing major corporations” (9 percent “a great deal,” 23 percent “a fair amount”).

The same poll asked people how much “responsibility” they assign to various institutions for the “current problems in the healthcare system.” Big Pharma and health insurers again took a drubbing, with 54 percent of respondents giving “a lot” of responsibility to the former and 56 percent giving it to the latter.