NU Online News Service, March 17, 2004, 1:48 p.m. EST – Most U.S. residents believe that the government should require some or all employers to provide health coverage.[@@]

Researchers with the National Opinion Research Center, Bethesda, Md., and the California HealthCare Foundation, Oakland, Calif., are reporting that finding today in an article in Health Affairs, a health policy journal.

When researchers interviewed 1,479 working-age U.S. adults over the telephone in late 2003, they found that 50% of the participants said all employers should have to provide health benefits for all employees, and a total of 90% supported some kind of health coverage mandate for all employees at all employers, certain employees at all employers or employees at large employers.

Only 10% of the participants were opposed to any kind of employer health benefits mandate.

Researchers also asked participants about how they thought requiring employers to provide health coverage would affect the job market.

Although 86% agreed that a mandate would affect overall wages or unemployment, only 56% said a mandate would affect their own wages or employment.

The researchers note that one polling organization found that simply giving California survey participants a brief description of arguments for and against an employer health benefits mandate cut support to 53%, down from about 66% before the participants heard the arguments.