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How Much Change in Health Care Can Americans Tolerate?


A new study of 21 countries published in the Journal of Health and Social BehaviorJ (lead author: Prof. Bernice Pescosolido) finds cultural constraints in how much change in their health care systems citizens will tolerate.

Most people agreed that government should “definitely be responsible for health care.” (Eighty percent or more of respondents in Slovenia, U.K., Spain, Italy, Russia, Latvia and Norway reported that the government should be responsible for health care). But in the U.S. just 38.1 percent agreed.

How much more money should government spend on heatlh care? Citizens in insurance based systems, including America, were the least enthusiastic about huge government increases. Levels of support for the government “definitely spending much more on health care,” with only 17.5 percent of U.S. respondents supporting this notion. Support from Canadian and French respondents ranged from 14.2 percent to 17 percent, with 19.9 percent of Germans supporting this idea.

Countries with centralized models of health care, such as Russia and Latvia, showed much higher levels of support for government spending — 64.2 percent and 53.2 percent support for the idea of increased spending, respectively.


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