Northern Illinois University

NIU Office of Public Affairs

News Release

Contact: Joe King, NIU Office of Public Affairs
(815) 753-4299

March 26, 2007

NIU survey finds support for state-guaranteed insurance for all

DeKALB, Ill. – Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s plan to dramatically expand state-funded health insurance is just what the doctor ordered for many Illinois residents who are voicing growing concerns about health care and believe it is the state’s job to protect them.

Nearly two-thirds of Illinois residents (63 percent) say it is the state government’s responsibility to make sure all Illinoisans have health care coverage, according to the recently released Illinois Policy Survey.
The state wide poll, which measures attitudes, values and expectations with respect to the performance of elected officials and Illinois policy issues, is conducted annually by the Center for Governmental Studies at Northern Illinois University. The survey is in its 23rd year.

“While we were surprised at the number of people saying that it is the state’s job to ensure health care coverage for all, that attitude fits with other findings in the poll,” says Michael Peddle, Associate Professor of Public Administration, who oversaw the survey on behalf of the Center along with political scientist Dr. Barbara Burrell.

According to the survey:

  • Concern about health care is growing. Seventeen percent of those polled said it is the most important problem facing Illinois, a significant jump since 2003 when only 3 percent held that opinion. Among problems cited, health care trailed only perennial top concern education (30 percent)
  • Most believe the health care system is in serious trouble. Twenty percent or respondents classified it as being in a state of crisis while 56 percent said it has major problems. Only 1 percent believed there were no problems.
  • Most worry about the cost of medical care. Fifty-four percent of those asked perceived cost and access to health care as the biggest health problems facing the state. That far outstripped concerns about cancer (15 percent), long term care for the elderly (13 percent) and AIDS (8 percent).
  • Most support increased spending on health care. Increased funding for medical care was supported by nearly two-thirds of respondents (62 percent). Only increased spending for public schools (78 percent) and financial aid for college students (67 percent) drew stronger support.

“Clearly, people are concerned about health care, and that concern is pervasive,” says Peddle. “Increased spending on health care by the state is supported by a majority – regardless of geographic location, income, age, sex and race.”

The fact that nearly two-thirds of those polled support the notion that it is the state’s job to ensure health coverage for all was one of the biggest surprises of the survey, Peddle says.

“Expecting the state to ensure health-care coverage for all is a fairly novel concept and one that is certainly less familiar or well-developed than that of federal government involvement,” he says.

Furthermore, support for the idea extended to some demographic groups who do not traditionally support big government social programs – including nearly half (47 percent) of self-identified Republicans (as compared to 77 percent of Democrats and 48 percent of Independents). In fact, more Republicans supported that responsibility for the state government than the federal government (44 percent of Republicans, 81 percent of Democrats and 63 percent of Independents). 

“You can parse those numbers a lot of ways, but the clear inference is that people want somebody to ensure that everyone has health care coverage” says Peddle.

The results of the Illinois Policy Survey are based upon telephone interviews with a weighted sample of 1,242 Illinois residents between November 2006 and January 2007. The study has a confidence interval of +/- 3 percent.

A copy of the report on the 2007 Illinois Policy Survey can be found online at: