A poll showed that most US doctors approve of a 'public option' to supplement private health care insurance in the United States, as proposed by President Barack Obama.
A total of 62.9 percent of physicians who participated in the survey by the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) said they favored a public option, or government insurance plan, against 27.3 percent backing a private system alone.
Another 9.6 percent favored a completely government-owned health care coverage system.
"It's clear that the majority of US physicians support both public and private options to expand coverage," NEJM said, noting that between 52 and 69 percent of Americans favor a supplemental public option.
The journal described physicians as "critical stakeholders" in health care reform.
Obama has vowed to pass legislation by the end of the year that would spread coverage to America's 47 million uninsured by making insurance obligatory and affordable for all.
But he has faced strong criticism, especially from Republicans, who have jumped on the 900-billion-dollar price tag and stoked fears that a mooted public option would lead to a federal takeover of health care, anathema to many Americans who abhor the idea of big government.
The NEJM poll found that 58.3 percent of physicians favor expanding Medicare, the public health insurance plan for seniors over 65 years old, to people aged 55 and over.
This option is among a set of proposals being considered by the Senate Finance Committee, which has played a key role in legislating the health reform plan.
In the traditionally more conservative South, 58.9 percent of US physicians favored a public option, compared to 69.7 percent in the generally more progressive Northeast.
NEJM surveyed 2,130 general physicians, specialists and surgeons who work in a private practice or with hospital groups.
A Washington Post-ABC News opinion poll meanwhile showed Americans remained almost deadlocked in their opinion of the health care initiative, with 46 percent in favor of the proposed changes and 48 percent opposed.