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Access, Cost Of Health Care Top Specific Medical Conditions

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

U.S. residents are more likely to point to systemic issues like access and cost as urgent health problems rather than specific medical conditions, according to a Gallup poll released on Monday, the Washington Times reports.

Thirty percent of people say access to care is the "most urgent health problem facing this country" and 25% cite the cost of care. The poll of 1,000 adult U.S. residents was conducted between Nov. 11 and Nov. 13, with a margin of error of three percentage points.

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According to the poll, 11% of respondents cited cancer and 12% cited obesity as the nation's top health challenge. HIV/AIDS, diabetes and heart disease each topped 2% of respondents' lists of most urgent problem. A similar Gallup survey conducted in 1988 found that 68% of respondents said HIV/AIDS was the primary health concern, while 1% said cost.

The new poll also found top concerns differed depending on political affiliation. One-fourth of conservatives said access was their top concern, compared with 40% of liberals. In addition, top concerns differed between the sexes. Among men, 17% said obesity was their top concern, compared with 8% of women.

According to the Times, "The national phobia about health care has been exacerbated by a spectrum of related woes, from the ongoing economic crisis to the specter of unemployment and loss of health insurance." Alan Sager, a health policy professor at Boston University, said, "Many people feel that illness is ultimately out of our control," adding, "But everyone believes that health insurance coverage and availability of good doctors, hospitals and caregivers is a reasonable expectation" (Harper, Washington Times, 12/2).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. © 2007 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.