Most Americans Uneasy With Profit Motive in Long-Term Care

Most Americans don't believe that long-term care '“ or health care in general, for that matter '“ should be driven by the profit motive.

A new Harris Interactive poll conducted for The Wall Street Journal Online found that only one out of five adults surveyed said that for-profit companies should run nursing homes. Thirty-six percent said the responsibility should fall to non-profit groups, 19 percent to government and 2 percent to universities. The remaining 22 percent said they weren't sure who should run the facilities.

The findings were similar for home care. Only one-quarter of respondents believe that home care companies should pursue profits. Thirty-seven percent said non-profits should provide such care, and 14 percent thought this should be a government responsibility.

The survey also asked the 2,587 responding adults their opinion of profit-driven health insurance, hospitals, medical research and pharmaceutical manufacturing. Interestingly, 31 percent said the government should provide health insurance, versus 22 percent who believe insurance should be a profit-driven enterprise.

"Most people do not think of health care as a business and would prefer health care services to be provided by nonprofits or government," says Humphrey Taylor, chairman of The Harris Poll. "There is little appetite for businesses to run home care, health insurance, nursing homes, hospitals or medical research."

For a copy of the poll's results in PDF format, click here.