Poll: Health Care Will Play Key Role in 2012 Elections

Nearly three-quarters of Americans say that the cost of health care and health insurance will be an important factor in their vote this November.
by | August 16, 2012
 

With the debate over health-care reform heating up after Mitt Romney selected his running mate to be U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (whose budget plan includes controversy surrounding Medicaid), nearly three-quarters of Americans say that the cost of health care and health insurance will be an important factor in their vote this November.

According to a new poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation, 44 percent of Americans said the cost of health care concerns them more than almost any other issue -- only the job situation concerns more people (59 percent). And 73 percent said both the cost of health care and the future of Medicare would play an important role in their vote for president.

Largely due to Ryan's candidacy and the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Medicaid is also weighing on voters' minds: 63 percent said it would factor into their vote for president -- higher than the ACA itself or abortion, which is often a more high-profile issue among the public.

Presented with a version of Ryan's plan for Medicare, voters appear to favor maintaining the status quo. Nearly 60 percent said Medicare should remain as it is, while 36 percent support turning it into a voucher program (after a basic reading of Ryan's proposal).

More Americans understand President Barack Obama's health policies and trust him to address health-care reform over his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney. According to the poll, 72 percent said they had a basic understanding of Obama's plans for health policy (compared to 45 percent for Romney); and 53 percent said they trusted Obama to make the right decisions on health policy (compared to 40 percent for Romney). Yet Obama's signature health policy achievement remains unpopular: 43 percent of those polled had an unfavorable view of the ACA, compared to 38 percent with a favorable view.

As other polls have found, though, individual segments of the law enjoy greater popularity. Health insurance exchanges, one of the most labor-intensive provisions in the law for states, are favored by 72 percent of those polled -- although only 56 percent were aware that they were part of the ACA.

The Kaiser poll was based on surveys of 1,208 nationally representive U.S. adults between August 7 and 12.

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