Record number say government should stay out of healthcare

The percentage of Americans who believe it is not the government's responsibility to make sure all citizens have healthcare is at a record high, Gallup reports.

Fifty-six percent of U.S. adults hold this opinion, which has been on the rise since 2009, according to the latest Gallup poll. Before then, a consistent majority of Americans said the government should be responsible to ensure universal healthcare access, with this opinion reaching a record high of 69 percent in 2006. Public support on universal healthcare began to decline in 2007.

Belief that the government should be responsible for ensuring healthcare access has decreased among Democrats, Republicans and independents, according to the poll, with the most drastic decline in the latter two groups. Eighty-six percent of Republicans disagree, compared to 53 percent in 2000, with the percentage that agree falling from 42 to 12 percent.

Fifty-five percent of independents also don't believe the government should be involved in healthcare, a 28-point increase from 2000. Thirty percent of Democrats also say the government should not be involved, another record high, and an increase of 11 points since 2000. The largest shift in opinion among Democrats happened between 2006 and 2008, according to the poll.

Despite the shift in all three groups, Gallup says it's likely that overall opinion is driven far more by Republicans and independents. "It is possible that this sharp change has been caused by a politicization of the issue as it became a major part of Obama's campaign platform, and as he and other Democratic leaders pressed for and passed the ACA [Affordable Care Act], sometimes called 'Obamacare,' in 2010," the poll states.

The continued implementation of the ACA will likely continue to affect these attitudes, the poll adds.

Despite these findings, support for the ACA increased in October, largely in response to the partial government shutdown, but before the public was aware of problems with the website, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

To learn more:
- read the poll results