Given the declines in public support for government responsibility seen this year in both the New York Times/CBS News and the Fox News polls, it will be important to see if the Gallup variant of the same question -- due to be updated in Gallup's November Health and Healthcare survey -- shows a similar shift.
The differing results to questions asking about government responsibility for health insurance may not be contradictory. A reasonable hypothesis could be that Americans generally believe people should take responsibility for their own healthcare coverage, while at the same time believing the government should provide a safety net for those who need it.
A system in which Americans are "primarily responsible" for their families' health insurance -- as the new Gallup question is phrased -- would not preclude having a government-based insurance program for the poor, such as the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) or Medicaid. By the same token, public support for the government's making sure "all Americans have healthcare coverage" -- as other questions are phrased -- isn't tantamount to support for mandated health insurance or a universal government-run system.