Gallup: Americans Want Socialized Healthcare

Eric Zuesse

Most Americans want Obamacare to be replaced by what Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders proposes and what both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump oppose: “Replacing the ACA [Affordable Care Act — Obamacare] with a federally funded healthcare program providing insurance for all Americans.” That’s 58% of Americans in the survey. Only 37% were opposed. 5% had “No opinion.”

Clinton proposes to build upon Obama’s ACA, but 51% in this Gallup survey say they want it repealed; only 45% want it to continue in any form (other than, presumably, socialized medicine, which, as was just noted, 58% of Americans want). Consequently, one of the, if not the, main, reason(s), why Americans want ACA repealed, is in order to obtain socialized healthcare (a possibility that candidate Obama had promised as a possibility in his ‘public option’, which he never even tried to include in his actual healthcare law, the ACA).

Donald Trump proposes to repeal ACA and simply go back to the old system, but in a form which enables all insurers to provide plans in all states.

On 19 August 2008, shortly after Obama had won the Democratic Presidential nomination, the Wall Street Journal bannered “Obama Touts Single-Payer System for Health Care,” and reported: “‘If I were designing a system from scratch, I would probably go ahead with a single-payer system,’ Obama told some 1,800 people at a town-hall style meeting on the economy,” which was held as a campaign-event in Albuquerque. This statement by Obama was bold; he was at that time appealing for votes not just in a Democratic primary, but now in the general Presidential race, where he had to appeal not merely to liberals, but to a broader cross-section of voters. But he also promised there a ‘public option’ to be included in his plan, and yet even that promise was abandoned by him the very moment he entered the White House — he never pushed for it, and he selected Max Baucus in the Senate to draft his plan: Baucus was firmly opposed to including any “public option”; that’s one of the reasons why Obama picked him.

Britain’s Independent offered the scientific evidence about this policy-issue, when it bannered, on 15 August 2009, “The Brutal Truth About America’s Healthcare,” and presented actual statistics from WHO and OECD in 2009:

Health spending as share of GDP: US 16%; UK 8.4%

Public spending on healthcare (% of total spending on healthcare): US 45%; UK 82%.

Per-capita healthcare spending [including both public & private]: US $7,290; UK $2,992.

Practising physicians per 1,000 people: US: 2.4; UK 2.5.

Nurses per 1,000 people: US 10.6; UK 10.0.

Acute care hospital beds per 1,000 people: US 2.7; UK 2.6.

Life expectancy: US 78; UK 80.

Infant mortality per 1,000 live births: US 6.7; UK 4.8.

On 26 October 2009, Reuters headlined “Healthcare System Wastes Up To $800 Billion a Year,” and reported: “The U.S. healthcare system is just as wasteful as President Barack Obama says it is, and proposed reforms could be paid for by fixing some of the most obvious inefficiencies,” such as “fraud,” “duplicate tests,” and “redundant paperwork.” Moreover, “The average U.S. hospital spends one-quarter of its budget on billing and administration, nearly twice the average in Canada [which has comprehensive socialized health insurance].” And yet Republicans were accusing the new Democratic President of threatening to bankrupt the country by pressing to change the U.S. system of health insurance; and opinion polls showed that lots of Americans were terrified of such change. 

Just a week later, The New York Times bannered on November 5th, “Costs Surge for Medical Devices, but Benefits Are Opaque,” and Barry Meier reported how the major medical device manufacturers had blocked an attempt by the Federal Government to measure the effectiveness of stents, artificial hips, and other medical devices; and how these manufacturers managed to achieve phenomenal profit margins, ranging from a low of 23% to a high of 30%: the combination of kickbacks to doctors, plus a lack of objective measures of effectiveness, was the “invisible hand” at work — Adam Smith’s economics in the real world, where the top pickpockets are actually the aristocracy. (Smith’s patron happened to be the Duke of Buccleuch — Henry Scott.) 

Reuters headlined on 14 March 2012, “Factbox: Healthcare by the Numbers,” and reported the latest “Health at a Glance 2011 – OECD Indicators.” The U.S was “1st in Spending … 17.9 percent of U.S. annual gross domestic product, or $8,402” per person. Though we had the highest medical costs, the U.S. was at or near the bottom in terms of healthcare delivered: 25th in Preventing Death from Heart Disease, 27th in Life Expectancy, 29th in Number of Practicing Doctors (per 1,000 population), 29th in Doctor Consultations, 30th in Hospital Beds, 30th in Medical Graduates, 31st in Health Coverage (insurance), 31st in Infant Mortality, and 31st in Preventing Premature Death.

In other words: The U.S. paid the most, but got the least. And it’s true even now, three years after the ACA went into effect.

A CBS/NYT poll taken 4-7 December 2014 asked “Would you favor or oppose a single-payer health care system, in which all Americans would get their health insurance from one government plan that is financed by taxes?” 50% opposed it; only 43% favored it then.

But, a year later, on 1-7 December 2015, the Kaiser Family Foundation poll asked “Now, please tell me if you favor or oppose having a national health plan in which all Americans would get their insurance through an expanded, universal form of Medicare-for-all.” And 58% favored that; only 34% opposed it.

The wording of such polls is important, because many Americans, especially older ones, have been taught and deeply ingrained to think that the word “socialist” means “communist,” and even some who know that many countries in Europe are democratic socialist nations and aren’t at all communist, retain that trained negative mental association, which was promulgated by the U.S. aristocracy during the Cold War but was never true: democratic socialists were just as opposed to communism as were democratic capitalists. The distinction isn’t between communism versus capitalism but between democracy versus dictatorship (rule by an aristocracy). It was always American propaganda. The Kaiser poll avoided that propaganda-indoctrination, by using the phrase “Medicare-for-all.”

In fact, the same CBS/NYT poll taken 4-7 December 2014 had also asked “Would you favor or oppose the government offering everyone a government-administered health insurance plan — something like the Medicare coverage that people 65 and older get — that would compete with private health insurance plans?” And, 59% said yes, only 34% said no. Moreover, this question had a history in that poll: the question had actually been asked nine times in 2009 (while Obamacare was being drafted), and the percentages favoring that option ranged between 60% at the low end to 72% at the high end, who wanted it; so, the only reason why President Obama assigned his Obamacare to be drawn up by Max Baucus (instead of to Ted Kennedy who wanted to draft it in his committee and who strongly favored the public option, which Baucus strongly opposed) is that Obama had been lying throughout his 2008 campaign, when he said he would include a public option in his plan. Hillary Clinton now is likewise promising to include a public option, so as to gain votes.

It’s not because the U.S. is a democracy that the U.S. is the only developed country that lacks healthcare as a right, not merely as a privilege for those who are healthy or otherwise can pay for the healthcare they need in order to be productive citizens. It’s instead because the U.S. isn’t a democracy, that only the U.S. builds its healthcare system upon the private-profit and private-charity model. Like the study that’s linked-to there shows (based upon a detailed analysis of 1,779 public-policy issues since 1980), “Multivariate analysis indicates that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence.” The study found that the only influence the public has is when parts of what a public majority want, get taken up by this or that wing of the oligarchy, which then hires lobbyists and politicians, to get it passed into law, because they’ve figured out some way they can personally profit from it. At least on healthcare, it’s extremely inefficient, from the standpoint of providing maximum benefit to the public at a minimum cost to the public.

This is not opinion, it is fact; it is news-reporting not news-commentary: Basically, the privatized system rips off the public for the benefit of the elite, at least on healthcare, if not perhaps also on education and other products and services that are essential in order to be able to have a maximally productive economy.

On 9 February 2016, CNN headlined, “Why Americans Don’t Live as Long as Europeans”, and reported, “‘it seems staggering that we get two fewer years of life just for living here,” said Andrew Fenelon, a senior service fellow at the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics and senior author of the study, which was published on Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.”

Because the U.S. is falling behind in those types of products and services, the U.S. is declining. “Nationwide, the median income of U.S. households in 2014 stood at 8% less than in 1999, a reminder that the economy has yet to fully recover from the effects of the Great Recession of 2007-09. The decline was pervasive, with median incomes falling in 190 of 229 metropolitan areas examined.” That’s from a study released by the Pew Research Center, on 11 May 2016, which was titled, “America’s Shrinking Middle Class: A Close Look at Changes Within Metropolitan Areas.” The sub-title was “The middle class lost ground in nearly nine-in-ten U.S. metropolitan areas examined.” 


Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

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  • OttoMaddox

    Handing out freebies – the key to political success. The best damn voters money can buy.

    • wunsacon

      The government typically hands out “freebies”. The question is who’s going to receive them?

      Right now we’re handing out freebies to oligarchs who skim off the healthcare premiums. Between a cluster**** public-private “partnership” or a overwhelmingly public affair, I prefer the latter. It’s not perfect either. But, it appears that other countries with “socialized” medicine obtain more ROI for their healthcare taxes than we do for our healthcare premiums.

      Same goes for the MIC. Demopublican leaders tout their success in reducing federal employee headcount. Meanwhile, they increased the headcount of contractors — and the waste that goes along with contractors who have a huge incentive to buy politicians.

      • diogenes

        The biggest recipient of “freebies” in all of history is the military industrial complex. but I bet OttoMaddox is just fine with that. I wonder how much stock he holds in General Dynamics, et al. People who talk that way generally do. “generally.”

    • Carl_Herman

      “Freebies” is a shallow talking point when all of the cost-benefit studies I examined showed $100 billion to $300 billion annual savings to Americans when we eliminate “health” “care” companies with universal healthcare.

  • SteveThom

    As shown in this article, there is one main reason why health care is so expensive in the United States:

    Gouging consumers for higher profits is a Big Pharma past-time.

    • diogenes

      The gouging is not limited to Big Pharma. It starts with the insurance companies and extends to chain hospitals, medical schools, the AMA, etc. Mr. Liberty’s critique of this matter above in on point; it’s his conclusions that are idiotic or collusive with the predators, take your pick.

      • MrLiberty

        You seem to believe that these actions by Big Pharma, etc. happen without the collusion of big government. How ignorant can you be? Sad that you think my conclusions are “collusive with the predators.” I seem to be the only one who understands how the predators were ABLE to do what they have done. You seem to think this would happen without the aid of government when clearly it has ONLY happened because the predators own and control government. You are clearly part of the problem, not part of the solution.

  • Brisa25

    Perhaps it’s time for government sponsored medical and dental schools. The cost of this education is in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Then the graduates can serve in government built and operated hospitals and dental clinics for some years before going into private practice. These clinics can be built for volume, not individual preferences (private rooms, etc.) We would need many more providers to serve the population if everyone could receive treatment without direct cost.

  • jerry4343

    How much can government do for its citizens?:

  • MrLiberty

    Forgive me for pointing out the obvious, but if one is NOT going to point out the multitude of ways government has destroyed CONSUMER CHOICE, the FREE MARKET, CONSUMER FREEDOM, MEDICAL FREEDOM, INDIVIDUAL LIBERTY, etc. as they pertain to the medical marketplace, then it is NOTHING but completely disingenuous to in any way take stabs at the supposed “failure” of a medical system based on profit and loss.

    There has been an active conspiracy between the AMA, allopathic (western) medicine, state legislatures, the federal government, and countless government entities for over 100 years to undermine both homeopathic/alternative medicine in this country and to destroy the direct connection between the consumer and the purchase of virtually everything related to healthcare.

    Some of the most glaring examples – Who can practice medicine is regulated in every state by the government in collusion with the AMA. What medicines are permissible and how one obtains them is controlled by the government in every state. Who can perform what medical procedures is controlled by the government in collusion with the AMA in every state. Who can sell insurance, what kind of insurance can be sold, what MUST be covered, etc. is controlled by the government in collusion with numerous lobbyists in every state. What information can be disseminated in what manner regarding healthcare, prevention, treatment, etc. is controlled by the FDA. What spending on what drugs, procedures, etc. that can be treated as “tax deductible” is controlled by the federal government in collusion with the AMA and others. Who can operate a hospital, whether they can expand their service area, whether they MUST treat certain people, what services they can and cannot perform, etc. is ALL controlled by both local and state government officials in collusion with the hospital industry and the AMA. I could go on, but you get the idea. Medicine in this country has been DESTROYED by government on behalf of the western medical establishment and all those who control the government power structure. Medicine is NOT unaffordable because of capitalism. There is NO capitalism in medicine today. There is only crony capitalism, the socialism of medicare/medicaid, and the totalitarianism of the FDA, DEA, and others.

    Prices are dropping, quality is improving, corruption and waste are rarely mentioned, and consumer choice is improving in virtually EVERY market in which government has NO INVOLVEMENT.

    Polls will reflect that consumers are fed up. But consumers are also completely ignorant of how we got such a screwed up market in medicine and sadly this article has done NOTHING to address that ignorance. Get rid of government and freedom will fix all or the problems government has created. It has always worked that way.

    • diogenes

      Get rid of the government and what we get — since it’s already been gotten rid of, mostly — it the government of the predators of Wall Street’s oligarchy, the 0.1% who own and operate America for their own greedy benefit and the rest of us be damned. Are you blind or in collusion with them?

  • diogenes

    Not only do most Americans want socialized health care. America is the ONLY major nation in the world that doesn’t have it, because America is the ONLY major nation in the world controlled by a predatory oligarchy as filthy and as merciless as Wall Street.

    • MrLiberty

      Indeed, the predatory oligarchy of the republican and democratic parties (and all the folks who own and control them). But socialized medicine is of course the absolute WRONG solution to the problem. Government is NEVER the solution to the problems GOVERNMENT has created – and they have created virtually the entire problem we now face with medicine in this country. This most certainly did not come about through market forces or the free choice of consumers acting in their own best interests in a free and open marketplace. Far from it.

      • cettel

        So, to you, health care is a commodity, which should be consumed only by those who can buy it, not a right, of all people. Well, the people who can’t afford the commodity will become unemployable if they aren’t already, and so they won’t be able to buy what you produce, and so the entire economy will decline, and that’s your ‘solution’ — to what? I think it’s just stupid, a false economic theory.

      • diogenes

        It works in dozens of countries. Single payer is not centralized health care, it is elimination of the predatory filth of Wall Street who take an enormous toll on the health care costs of all of us and deliver worse public health rates than Cuba or Turkey, never mind ALL “first world” countries. See Wilkinson & Pickett’s brilliant book The Spirit Level to inform yourself about what you think you know and obviously dont.

  • Michael Daush

    Before I was advised that I had a melanoma I was at the point where I thought medical care needed to be available to all. I have been on a high deductible policy which I never used for the last six years. though I appreciate the care I am getting and the Doctors hard work, I am verrry concerned about the cost to my family.
    We spend unlimited funds on wars and other stupid things like bailing out banks but nothing for our people. If we ran a tight financial ship and said all were responsible for themselves, I’d be ok with it but since almost 45% of my families income goes to some sort of federal, state or municipal tax and all I get is potholes, traffic stops and wars that nobody agrees with, I hAVE come to mind that our people should be the beneficiaries, not the banks, other countries, illegals etc.

  • Mencken’s Ghost

    And I want Marylou down the supermarket to love me long time. If we were to have socialized health CARE, (which can never work well, or for long), we would at least also need to forcibly socialize health RISKS. We cannot share costs without reducing risk as well. All of these fat, drunk, stoned, smoking, sedentary, 24/7 TV-watching, garbage-eating, STD-vectoring, texting, seatbelt-eschewing, subhuman violent savages without the sense god gave geese would have to have yet another violence-backed police force/nanny agency control their lives to REDUCE RISK that would increase the cost of their free-lunch healthcare boondoggle.

    • Baby_Jesus