The point is often made that one of the trickiest elements of health care reform to navigate is that a majority of Americans routinely tell pollsters that they’re actually satisfied with their care, and don’t want it taken away in the name of helping the uninsured.
A new poll, though, pokes a hole claim, suggesting that beneath the surface of that satisfaction is deep insecurity about the existing system, and a fear that satisfactory health care won’t come through in a crisis.
The survey from Belden Russonello & Stewart found that 72 percent of adults "are worried that if someone in their family becomes seriously ill their health insurance might not cover enough of their medical bills," and that somewhat smaller majorities worry that other crises or changes could cost them their health insurance.
A full 46 percent say they worry "very much" about losing health coverage if they lose or change jobs.
The analysis from pollster John Russonello (whose firm’s clients include groups supporting new health care legislation, among them the AARP and Families USA):
Most Americans tell pollsters they are satisfied with the quality and accessibility of their current health care, but this does not mean they feel safe that things will stay that way. Scratch the surface of their satisfaction and you uncover fear that nothing is secure when it comes to health care: you hear stories of friends or relatives who have become destitute or have gone untreated for illnesses because they have lost health coverage somehow.
The conclusion: "Insecurity is a key driver of desire for reform.”
There has been some criticism of the White House’s early efforts that it focused too much on cost savings, and too little on, well, "fearmongering." Obama’s Wednesday night press conference addressed that by describing the status quo as a building crisis, and the poll underscores the political opportunity in voters’ fear and insecurity with that status quo.