Merriam Associates Insight On-the-Street went out to discover what people think about the debate on health care reform. We wanted to see if there is a consensus among regular people who are not taking active part in the debate.
What we heard is rather different from what is reported on the news. Away from the fun-house mirrors of town hall brawls and political posturing, people have only a general understanding of the issues and confusing claims and counterclaims coming from all sides. Surprisingly, the primary scapegoat is the pharmaceutical industry—something you don’t often hear reported.
No Consensus on Health Care Reform
While we went out to hear the current public consensus, what we found was no consensus at all. We heard vague opinions, dubious facts, no real understanding of the proposals on the table, and highly politicized, polarized views. People disagree about what is wrong with the system, how the reform process should be conducted, and what would be the ideal fix. People support finding a way to cover the uninsured and are well aware of the role powerful special interests play in influencing a complicated situation. Some see value in competition, while others distrust the profit motive.
People Are Satisfied with their Health Care and Don’t Hate Insurance Companies
As brand experts, we were particularly interested in opinions about the brand reputations of their insurance companies. As one of the whipping boys in the debate, we expected strong opinions about health insurance providers. Instead, people are satisfied with their health care choices and don’t really think about their insurance providers. People had trouble even recalling what company provided their insurance and no one had an opinion about any company, good, bad or otherwise. We asked for horror stories about how the system is failing people and no one had one.
The Untold Story: Blame for Pharmaceutical Companies
There is a big loser in the blame game, however, and that is Big Pharma. Regardless of where they stood on the political spectrum or what they thought of reform, people point to the drug companies as the top culprits for what is broken in the current system.
Far From a Good Solution</strong>
If good policy comes from sound consensus, we are far from a good solution on health care reform.
On The Street – Authentic Opinions
We talk to people at random and in context–no artificial focus group rooms, constricted questionnaires, or reporters with an agenda. We capture off-the-cuff opinions that are not premeditated, baited, censored, or influenced by group think. Our unobtrusive cameras and a non-judgmental interview technique puts people at ease and gets them talking, sharing what is genuinely on their minds.