Monday, August 26, 2013

What do they know?

The other day, Paul Krugman referred to a poll from 2009 that found 39% of Americans thought that the government should "stay out of Medicare" (citing this source).  The link to the original release is broken, although the information may still be present somewhere on the site of Public Policy Polling, which did the survey.  However, there was a survey from 2003 sponsored by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health which asked:   "To the best of your knowledge, is Medicare primarily a federal government program, a state government program, or a private insurance program?"  74% said federal, 16% state, 2% private and 7% didn't know.  Republicans were no more likely to say that it was private (and were somewhat more likely to know that it's a federal program).  Education was the biggest influence, although even among people with less than a high school diploma, only 4% thought it was private and 16% didn't know.

So this question (which was also asked in 1995 and 2000 with similar results) suggests that almost everyone knows that Medicare is a government program.  As far as the PPP poll, my guess is that most of the people who said the government should "stay out" meant something along the lines of "don't change anything."  

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