What does the public really think about a public option? Two polls, and we still don’t know

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Dueling polls released this week find Connecticut residents either love the idea of a public health insurance option or they are not big fans. Not surprisingly, the polls are sponsored by groups with dueling agendas and they don’t give details or survey question wording.

According to a poll released Monday by Comptroller Kevin Lembo, 71% of Connecticut voters and 72% of small business owners support a public option. Comptroller Lembo is a proponent of the public option that would run through his office. According to the poll, 61% of voters and 52% of small business owners believe it will lower healthcare costs in the state. The Comptroller’s poll was funded by United States of Care, a national think tank supporting state public option plans.

The second poll was released today by Connecticut’s Health Care Future found that only 36% of Connecticut residents support a public option. The Connecticut’s Health Care Future coalition is concerned that a public option will hurt Connecticut jobs and increase costs for consumers and taxpayers. According to the poll, 78% oppose higher taxes and 82% oppose higher medical costs to pay for the public option.

Interestingly, the polls sharply disagree on Connecticut residents’ perception of our current healthcare system. According to the Comptroller’s poll, only 10% of Connecticut residents like our states’ current healthcare system and want it to stay as it is. However, the business coalition’s poll found that 60% of state residents want to build on Connecticut’s current healthcare system.

There are at least two lessons here. The polling devil is in the details, as for so much else. And Connecticut residents are probably very confused about a public option (and a lot of healthcare policy).

Note: During the 2020 legislative campaign season, a state public health insurance option was a popular proposal by candidates to lower healthcare costs and improve consumer choice.