NU Online News Service, Oct. 28, 2003, 11:15 a.m. EST – Many Americans are pessimistic about the possibility of the U.S. health care system improving in the next five years, according to results of a Web-based survey conducted by Harris Interactive Inc., Rochester, N.Y.

Harris found that 62% of the 2,306 adults surveyed in September were pessimistic about the health care system and only 25% were optimistic.

The share of participants who were pessimistic was 55% for Republicans, 66% for Democrats and 69% for Independents.

The most optimistic participants were conservatives and Republicans. Thirty-four percent of them predicted that the health care system would improve in the next five years.

Only 23% of the participants said health insurance should be treated as an ordinary private economic good, like food or clothing. Sixty-five percent said the government should treat health insurance more as a public good, like fire protection or access to highways, Harris says.

Seventy-nine percent of the Democrats said health insurance ought to be treated as a public good.

Forty-three percent of the Republicans said health insurance should be treated more like an ordinary product, but 46% of the Republicans agreed with the majority of Democratics that health insurance ought to be treated as a public good.