North Carolinians favor public option

Three out of every four North Carolina residents believe the current health care system in the United States is in need of reform, according to the latest Elon University Poll, and 54 percent of residents support health insurance legislation that would include a public option.

Forty-one percent of respondents said they would use a public option plan should one become available.

The poll, conducted Oct. 26-29, surveyed 703 North Carolina residents and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.8 percentage points. The sample is of the population in general, with numbers that include both landlines and cellular phones.

In a little more than a year, the number of residents who have some form of private health care coverage has dropped. While 83 percent of respondents in a September 2008 poll indicated they had private insurance, in the most recent poll, just 73 percent reported the same.

“Obvious from these results is that citizens recognize that the health system is in need of reform, but, like most Americans, are divided over how to do it, ”said Hunter Bacot, director of the Elon University Poll.

In proposals currently under debate, the public option is a plan where citizens who lack existing coverage would be able to purchase insurance through the federal government.

However, in a separate question, the poll found that residents are evenly split on their support for a national insurance plan where the federal government pays most medical and hospital costs for all citizens. Forty-seven percent of residents support such a plan while 47 percent oppose it. Six percent indicated they “don’t know” if they support or oppose the idea.


Overall, the North Carolina public remains pessimistic about the economy, with 73 percent of respondents expecting the current economic climate to stay about the same or get worse. Three quarters of respondents – 76 percent – said the economy has affected them personally.

The percentage of respondents indicating they have been affected by the following:

  • Have lost money in the stock market: 47 percent
  • Have had their home value decline: 41 percent
  • Have had a retirement plan lose more than 25 percent of its value: 38 percent
  • Have had hours reduced at work: 32 percent
  • Have had trouble paying the mortgage: 20 percent
  • Have lost a job: 20 percent
  • Have lost medical coverage or medical insurance: 18 percent