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'Individual Mandate' in Health Care Reform Law Still Widely Unpopular: Poll

Unpopular: Poll But many wonder if politics will influence Supreme Court's ultimate decision, Harris Interactive/HealthDay survey finds

NORWALK, Conn., USA (March 1, 2011) – Fifty percent of Americans oppose the “individual mandate” clause in the health care reform law that requires all Americans not already insured to purchase health insurance, according to a new Harris Interactive/HealthDay poll released today.

Only 22 percent support the mandate.

But certain arguments in favor of the mandate seem to sway opinion back toward support of the measure. For example, 71 percent of the more than 3,000 adults polled in mid-February agreed with the notion that "for health insurance to work, it is necessary to include people who are healthy in order to help pay for those who are sick."

That seems to suggest that "while the individual mandate is still widely unpopular, indeed by far the most unpopular part of the Affordable Care Act [ACA], some arguments in favor of it are supported by most people," said Humphrey Taylor, chairman of The Harris Poll Interactive.

The poll did find that 56 percent of Americans agree that if everyone is required to have health insurance, including healthy people, it will make the average cost of insurance less expensive.  And 51 percent agreed with the idea that requiring insurance companies to provide health insurance to people with preexisting conditions will not work unless everyone is required to have insurance -- a major argument often put forward as to why the individual mandate is necessary.

However, the poll also found that many Americans disagree over the constitutionality of the mandate.  Half of those surveyed felt the individual mandate was unconstitutional, while 20 percent thought it was constitutional, and 30 percent weren't sure. Among Republicans, 78 percent said the mandate was unconstitutional, compared with 31 percent of Democrats.

The constitutionality of the mandate will most likely be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court, and, Taylor noted, "Most people do not feel that the Court is above politics."

The poll reflected that assessment: only slightly more than a third (36 percent) of those interviewed believe that the nation's highest court would be able to decide the issue in a non-political, non-partisan way. Thirty-nine percent felt that any Supreme Court decision would be colored by the justices' political leanings.

Meanwhile, the nation as a whole remains split over the Affordable Care Act, with 39 percent opposed to the reform package, 34 percent in favor and 27 percent still undecided.

The poll included 3,419 adults over age 18 who were surveyed online between Feb. 16-18, 2011, by Harris Interactive, one of the world's leading custom market research firms, and HealthDay, a leading producer and syndicator of health news.

The complete findings of the newest joint Harris Interactive/HealthDay poll are available here.  HealthDay's news report is available here. Full data on the poll and its methodology are available at Harris Interactive.

About HealthDay

HealthDay, a division of Scout News LLC, is a leading producer and syndicator of evidence-based health news for consumers and physicians and is the largest syndicator of that news to Internet sites. Its consumer health news service (www.healthday.com) appears on more than 5,000 Web sites such as Yahoo!, MSN, iVillage, US News & World Report, hundreds of hospitals and hospital group Web sites, as well as print publication Web sites across the country. HealthDay also produces Physician's Briefing (www.physiciansbriefing.com); a news service for physicians, nurses and other medical professionals that is updated twice daily providing 15 articles a day across 27 medical specialties. HealthDay also provides custom content for major health portals. The newest addition to the HealthDay portfolio is HealthDay TV -- a 90-second news broadcast of essential health information that appears on several major media Web sites, US government Web sites and other health information sites.

About Harris Interactive

Harris Interactive is one of the world's leading custom market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the Harris Poll and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers expertise in a wide range of industries including healthcare, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer package goods. Serving clients in over 215 countries and territories through our North American, European, and Asian offices and a network of independent market research firms, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help us - and our clients - stay ahead of what's next. For more information, please visit www.harrisinteractive.com.

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