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A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Insurance Industry: Spinning the Polls

Harry and Louise may have switched sides, but that’s no excuse, in our book, for the health insurance industry to resort to misrepresenting polls as it argues against inclusion of a public plan in health care overhaul proposals on Capitol Hill.

Karen Ignani, the head of industry trade group America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), told lawmakers that “77 percent of Americans are satisfied with their existing health insurance coverage,” according to today’s Washington Post. That’s a statistic plucked from a June survey by CBS News and the New York Times. But, as the Post also points out, a look at the responses to other questions in the poll does more to undermine the industry’s argument than support it.

For instance, when asked whether they favored creation of a government-administered health plan to compete with the private insurance industry, 72 percent of respondents said yes, while only 20 percent said no.

Furthermore, the Post notes that data crunched for the newspaper from a Kaiser Family Foundation tracking poll last year showed that people who used their health insurance the least – in other words, those who were the healthiest – liked it the best. Individuals who had more experience with the system of filing claims and trying to get medical care had lower regard for their insurance plans.