Most Republicans Think the U.S. Health Care System is the Best in the World. Democrats Disagree

Source: Harvard School of Public Health

A recent survey by the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and Harris Interactive, as part of their ongoing series, Debating Health: Election 2008, finds that Americans are generally split on the issue of whether the United States has the best health care system in the world (45% believe the U.S. has the best system; 39% believe other countries have better systems; 15% don’t know or refused to answer) and that there is a significant divide along party lines. Nearly seven-in-ten Republicans (68%) believe the U.S. health care system is the best in the world, compared to just three in ten (32%) Democrats and four in ten (40%) Independents who feel the same way.

This poll was conducted during a period of debate over the comparative merits of the U.S. health care system and the health care systems in other countries. President Bush and other prominent political figures have claimed that the U.S. has the best system in the world. At the same time, the World Health Organization and other organizations have ranked the U.S. below many other countries in their comparisons, while Michael Moore presented a similarly negative assessment of the U.S. health system in a popular format with his film Sicko.

So how might this issue impact how Americans vote in the upcoming presidential election? When asked if they would be more likely to support or oppose a presidential candidate who advocates making the U.S. health care system more like health systems in other countries, specifically Canada, France, and Great Britain, only one in five (19%) Republicans say they would be more likely to support such a candidate. This is compared to more than half (56%) of Democrats and more than a third of Independents (37%) who say they would be more likely to support such a candidate.

Americans’ views on the U.S. health care system (Word; 340 KB)

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