Giving poll takers slightly different types of information can lead to big shifts in responses to public health option questions.

Researchers at the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, Menlo Park, Calif., have published that finding in a summary of results from an April telephone survey of 1,203 U.S. residents ages 18 and older.

When the researchers asked, “Would you favor or oppose creating a (government-administered) public health insurance option similar to Medicare to compete with private health insurance plans?”, 67% of the participants said they would favor such a proposal.

When the researchers then asked participants who said they support such a proposal, “What if you heard that a public health insurance option could give the government an unfair advantage over private insurance companies?”, only 32% of the participants said they still would support the public plan option.

Similarly, when the researchers asked participants who said they oppose a public plan proposal how they would react if they heard such a plan could drive down costs, by forcing private insurers to compete with the public plan, 78% of the participants who originally opposed the public plan option said they would support it.