Many Still Favor Stronger Regulation of Healthcare Industries
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Many Still Favor Stronger Regulation of Healthcare Industries

Three healthcare industries continue to rank very high on the list of those that Americans believe should be more strongly regulated, below only the currently unpopular oil industry.

Paul Holmes

Three healthcare industries continue to rank very high on the list of those that Americans believe should be more strongly regulated, below only the currently unpopular oil industry. However, for the third year in a row the percentage of people who want stronger regulation of these industries has declined, according an annual Harris Poll survey.

In the latest Harris survey, 48 percent of adults favor stronger regulation of “pharmaceutical and drug companies,” down from 57 percent, 55 percent and 51 percent who felt this way in 2003, 2004 and 2005, respectively. While Republicans (40 percent) are less likely than Democrats (54 percent) or Independents (51 percent) to favor stronger regulation, the difference is not very large.

While fewer people now favor stronger regulation of the pharmaceutical industry, only seven percent of adults think that it is generally honest and trustworthy, and this number is actually worse than the 13 percent, 14 percent and nine percent recorded in the last three years.

The differences between health insurance and managed care companies have eroded somewhat as almost all major health insurance companies are also in managed care, and managed care organizations are a form of insurance. Public perceptions—using both descriptions—are similar, still very negative but, like attitudes to pharmaceuticals, somewhat better than they used to be.

Almost half (48 percent) of adults want stronger regulations of health insurance and 41 percent want stronger regulation of managed care. However, these are down, respectively, from 59 percent and 60 percent in 2003, having declined every year since then.The numbers of adults who believe health insurance and managed care companies are generally honest and trustworthy remain very, very low at seven percent and four percent.

Public attitudes toward hospitals are not as negative as attitudes toward pharmaceuticals and health insurance. However, 28 percent of adults want stronger regulation of hospitals, which is more than those who want stronger regulation of half the industries on the list, including life insurance (24 percent), telephone companies (23 percent), airlines (21 percent), car manufactures (19 percent) or banks (17 percent).

Hospitals do better, relative to other industries, on trust. About a quarter (28 percent) of the public thinks they are generally honest and trustworthy, just below supermarkets and banks but better than the other 14 industries listed.

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