Healthcare leaders are optimistic the U.S. can halve the percentage of uninsured Americans to 8% in 10 years, according to an online survey for the Commonwealth Fund. Employer-based solutions for expanding coverage generally drew the most acceptance as policy options. Eighty-two percent of the 255 respondents favored incentives to encourage employers to provide basic health insurance; 70% backed an insurance fund financed by mandatory contributions from employers that don't offer health benefits; and 60% supported an option for employers to buy into Medicaid or other state-sponsored programs for their workers. The survey, by Harris Interactive, was sent to 1,251 peer-nominated experts in healthcare policy, finance and delivery.
Seventy-five percent of respondents said employer-sponsored insurance should not be allowed to decline, but only 52% said employers should be required to help finance health coverage. Forty-two percent supported replacing employer-based coverage with a single-payer plan as a possible policy option. A larger percentage -- 57% -- favored requiring individuals to buy health insurance. Among the initiatives proposed by President Bush, tax credits or other subsidies for low-wage workers drew support from 79% of respondents; only 22% and 33% backed health savings accounts and association health plans, respectively. Read the survey results. -- by Laura B. Benko