Many people believe they should not be forced to obtain the insurance they are required to buy under the new Massachusetts universal health care law, according to a 7NEWS-Suffolk University poll.

While 92 percent of those polled are aware of the new law requiring all state residents to have health insurance, 73 percent said they do not believe that all people will purchase the health insurance as required.

When respondents were asked if people should be compelled to buy health insurance even if they don’t want it, 42 percent said “yes,” while 49 percent said “no.”

Health care seen as a right
Yet, an overwhelming number, 92 percent, said everyone has a right to health care. Seventy-nine percent said that free health care should be provided to those individuals below the poverty level, and 68 percent were very confident in the health care they receive.

In other poll findings, Boston hospitals got higher marks than suburban hospitals, although most respondents stayed outside of Boston on their most recent hospital visit. Fifty-seven percent of those polled said that Boston hospitals offer better treatment than suburban hospitals. But 61 percent went to a hospital outside of Boston, while 34 percent went to a Boston hospital on their most recent visit.

Avian flu readiness
On the avian flu, 22 percent of respondents said they believe Boston hospitals are prepared for a breakout, while 33 percent believe the hospitals are not ready, and 38 percent were undecided. This question was also part of a major health care study taken in early June, as part of a Health and Fitness Expo display to be held at the Hynes Convention Center June 23-24, 2007.

Corporate America received the lion’s share of the blame for the rising cost of health care, with 18 percent of those polled pointing to insurance companies, 16 percent citing the rising cost of malpractice insurance, 15 percent noting use of the emergency room for routine medical issues, and 10 percent blaming high drug prices.

The 7NEWS-Suffolk University poll was conducted from June 4 to June 7, 2007. The margin of error is +/- 4.90 percent at a 95 percent level of confidence. The 400 respondents statewide were all residents of Massachusetts.

Marginals and 270 pages of cross-tabulation data are available.