Another Quick-and-Dirty Survey: How to Finance Health Care?

Thank goodness the Health Policy course at Harvard is not optional.  Health care coverage is relevant, nonintuitive, and downright confusing.  Economics, policy, and politics are certainly not topics I have learned much about from a source other than the media.  Every day, for four weeks, we learn about geographical variations in health spending, insurance, Medicare and Medicaid, cost growth, managed care, medical malpractice, health care quality, and health care reform.  This is week one.

I am curious about our class’s sentiments about how health care should be funded.  I am also interested whether that sentiment will change after we are (presumably) better educated by the end of this month.  (I plan to send out an identical survey at the end of the course.)

The survey simplifies almost to the point of ridiculousness.  Should funding for health care head in a private or public direction?  Of course, there are many, many different and complicated models of coverage: for example, “universal coverage” does not necessarily entail a single payer or even completely public funding.  I intentionally left out the concept of mixed (public and private) funding, since that is what exists today and I suspect most of my classmates would fall into that camp.  I am more interested in the direction that they think health care coverage should go–should we encourage private or public entities to fund it?  Which way do we lean, on a very superficial level?  Does it correlate with self-reported knowledge of policy?  Will it change after this course?


Correlation between “self-reported knowledge” and leaning?  Size of private funding group (N=7) is too small to draw any conclusions.

Caveat: “Self-reported knowledge” is an incredibly subjective measure.  It could also reflect ego more than knowledge.

The average knowledge score for those who leaned toward private funding was 2.9, and for those who leaned toward public 2.3.

No one who self-rated a 1 on knowledge leaned private.

40% of those who self-rated a 4 on knowledge leaned private.

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