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Poll: Americans Don’t Know What They Think

As the health care debate slogs on, Republicans are using the town-hall forums of August as proof that Americans oppose the Democrats’ health reform plans, while Democrats are pointing to various polls as evidence that the Republicans are wrong.

Just in time to confuse the issue further, another poll this week indicates that both sides are right (or wrong), depending on how you approach.

For example, the poll, conducted by researchers at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pa., found that roughly one-third (36 percent) of Americans think the U.S. health care system is better than that in other industrial countries; roughly one-third (29 percent) feel the system is average; and the final third (30 percent) say it’s below average.

On the issue of insurance reform, the numbers are similarly all over the board. About 75 percent of respondents with insurance, for example, rate their plans “good” or “very good.” Yet nearly one-fourth of respondents said they’ve skipped a treatment due to cost, while another fourth claim to have missed a prescription fill for the same reason. Of those without insurance, researchers found, 80 percent either applied for coverage and had it turned down, or they simply can’t afford it.

The numbers are based on responses this month from 1,046 adults, 900 of them registered voters.

If there are any clear conclusions here, they seem to be (1) that Americans’ views on health reform extend little further than their personal experiences, and (2) any argument you want to make about the nature of the country’s health care system can be supported by one of these numbers. Of course, it’s no news that all politics is personal.

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