WHAT WOMEN WANT ON HEALTH CARE
By HEATHER RICHARDSON HIGGINS
Women are seen as a key constituency of Democrats, particularly on issues like health care. But current congressional proposals not only concern women, they may actually drive women away from the party.
The Independent Women's Forum (IWF) commissioned a survey to better understand women's health-care concerns. We asked extensive questions of 800 registered voters, deliberately taking a broad sample to be representative geographically, demographically, politically and philosophically. Forty percent of respondents self-identified as Democrats, 22% as independents, and only 32% as Republicans (the rest didn't offer a party affiliation); of the 81% who voted in the last election, 58% voted for Barack Obama. That makes the results all the more fascinating.
One key finding is that most women like their own care. Three out of four (74%) rate their own health care as good or excellent, and 77% think the quality of the care they receive is equal to or better than what others receive. Particularly surprising, given the nefarious reputation of insurers, was that two-thirds (66%) thought their insurance was good or excellent, and 73% thought that they had appropriate or even high quality insurance. (No insurer paid for the poll or contributes to IWF.)
Women, it turns out, see health-care reform as being for someone other than themselves. Three out of four women either want their own health care modified only slightly (40%) or think it's better left as it is (35%); 64% would rather have private insurance than a government-run plan.
Part of this is driven by the expectation that government-run health care will create new problems. Nearly half of the women in IWF's survey (46%) worry that government-run health care will result in more doctors leaving medicine. More than half (51%) think it will cause a decline in the quality of health care. Half think their family will end up paying more for health care, and 81% expect that it will lead to increases in the taxes they have to pay. Across the spectrum 76% of respondents felt that a tax penalty for not purchasing insurance was unfair.