Big tobacco. Big oil. Big health insurance? Perhaps the tumultuous town halls across the nation and constant debate over health care reform in recent months have conspired to sour public opinion of health insurers. This is at least the case according to the results of a poll, which finds health carriers are third in line behind tobacco and oil companies as industries seen publicly as doing a bad job.

Every year, The Harris Poll, conducted by Harris Interactive, asks a cross-section of adults their opinion of 20 leading industries—specifically, whether or not they’re doing a good or bad job of serving their consumers. The poll took the pulse of 1,010 U.S. adults surveyed by telephone between July 8 and 13, 2009.

According to the results, when asked what industry’s reputation has been most badly hurt in the last 12 months, car manufacturers (down 31 points), banks (down 24 points) and investment and brokerage firms (down 27 points) topped the list. Health insurers (down 10 points) and pharmaceutical companies (down six points) also slipped, while life insurers (up 12 points) and hospitals (up six points) both improved.

In terms of industries most likely to be thought of as doing a good job, supermarkets, hospitals, online search engines, packaged food companies, and computer companies enjoy the best reputation for serving their consumers.

On the flip side, more than half of all adults surveyed believe tobacco companies (63%), oil companies (60%), health insurers (58%) and managed care (54%) are all doing a bad job.

Other industries with relatively high negative ratings include investment and brokerage firms (46%), car manufacturers (45%), pharmaceuticals (45%), banks (38%) and cable companies (37%).

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