Who Deserves Health Care? The Effects of Causal Attributions and Group Cues on Public Attitudes about Responsibility for Health Care Costs

40 Pages Posted: 19 Jul 2010 Last revised: 30 Aug 2010

See all articles by Sarah Gollust

Sarah Gollust

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities

Julia Lynch

University of Pennsylvania

Date Written: 2010

Abstract

How do beliefs about race, class, and health behaviors affect health policy opinions? Analysis of vignette experiments embedded in a nationally representative survey shows that cues about the behavior of sick individuals exert a more powerful effect on health policy opinions than do explicit racial or class group cues, which in American policy discourse are more traditional signals of deservingness. Attributing health status to personal behaviors is associated with increased support for individual versus societal responsibility for health care costs, and lower public support for government-financed health insurance. However, Americans differ in their attribution of health disparities to behaviors (versus biological or systemic factors) depending on whether groups are defined in racial, class, or gender terms. Because causal attributions also strongly affect health policy opinions, varying patterns of attribution may reinforce harmful group stereotypes and undermine support for universal access to health care.

Suggested Citation

Gollust, Sarah and Lynch, Julia, Who Deserves Health Care? The Effects of Causal Attributions and Group Cues on Public Attitudes about Responsibility for Health Care Costs (2010). APSA 2010 Annual Meeting Paper, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1644209

Sarah Gollust (Contact Author)

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities ( email )

420 Delaware St. SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455
United States

Julia Lynch

University of Pennsylvania ( email )

Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

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