The American public generally is wary about profit motives in healthcare, though there is little consensus about which types of entities should run healthcare organizations, a new Harris poll says.
Rochester, N.Y.-based pollster Harris Interactive surveyed more than 2,500 U.S. adults between Nov. 13 and Nov. 17 on behalf of the Wall Street Journal Online and released its findings yesterday.
According to the national survey, a wide majority of Americans favors nonprofit or government involvement in healthcare services.
Only 19% of those surveyed say that for-profit companies should run most hospitals and 22% would prefer a profit motive in health insurance. Private not-for-profit, nonacademic entities should own, provide or run hospitals in the opinion of 35% of the survey pool, while a 31% plurality says government should take charge of health insurance.
Just 17% are in favor of government-run hospitals, however.
"Most people do not think of healthcare as a business and would prefer healthcare services to be provided by nonprofits or government," Harris executive Humphrey Taylor says in a report. "There is little appetite for businesses to run home care, health insurance nursing homes, hospitals or medical research."
The money motive is more palatable in the drug industry, as 37% indicate a preference for profit-driven companies in pharmaceutical manufacturing, compared to 17% who would like the government to make medications and 18% who want nonprofit control in this area, the survey says. Only 6% say universities are the best choice to run this industry, although 42%--the largest plurality among the six healthcare sectors studies--favor academia for medical research.
In addition to hospitals, insurance, research and drugmaking, Harris asks opinions on management of in-home care and nursing homes. More than a third want nonacademic nonprofits in charge of the latter two categories, according to the poll.
About one-fifth of respondents, give or take a few percentage points, are undecided in each of the six areas.