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Health-care issues lead latest Arizona State University-Southwest Poll

TEMPE, Ariz. A majority of Southwesterners 86 percent think the U.S. health care system is in need of some reform, and more than half 53 percent indicate "a great deal of reform" is needed, according to the most recent Arizona State University-Southwest Poll.

Further, support for health care reform was highest among middle-age respondents: 64 percent of those ages 31-44 and 61 percent of those ages 45-60 said "a great deal of reform" was needed, while fewer than 10 percent in these two age categories indicated "no reform" was needed at all.

Results of the poll, which were released June 9, are online at: They are based on a lengthy 45-question telephone poll conducted by the Institute for Social Science Research at Arizona State University. The poll asked 501 Southwest adult residents in Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico and Texas their opinions on several issues, including health care costs and quality, electronic medial records, and the economy.

On the question of the U.S. government guaranteeing health insurance for all Americans, even if it meant raising taxes, support was highest among younger respondents, while 42 percent of respondents age 61 and older were "strongly opposed."

Specifically, 53 percent of all the respondents "strongly" or "somewhat" favored the U.S. government guaranteeing health insurance. That figure jumped to 61 percent for those ages 18-30 and decreased among older respondents: 56 percent for ages 31-44, 51 percent for ages 45-60, and 41 percent for ages 61 and older.

The reverse was seen among the age categories in those who "strongly" opposed the idea of the U.S. government guaranteeing health insurance for all citizens, even if it meant raising taxes. With 30 percent of all respondents being "strongly" opposed, that figure was lower among the younger respondents: 22 percent of those ages 18-30, 27 percent of those ages 31-44, 32 percent of those ages 45-60, and 42 percent of those ages 61 and older.

On the subject of health coverage, 89 percent of Southwesterners in the poll said were covered by health insurance, a health plan provided by their employer, a government program like Medicare or Medicaid, or something else. Of those who had health coverage, 72 percent indicated they were "very" or "somewhat" concerned that costs would increase in the next year, while 51 percent were "very" or "somewhat" concerned that coverage would decrease. Half 50 percent were "very" or "somewhat" concerned whether their coverage would cover medical expenses in the event of a serious or catastrophic health problem, while 41 percent were "very" or "somewhat" concerned that they would lose their health insurance altogether in the next year or so.

Those Southwesterners who had health coverage were also asked about a nationwide system of electronic medical records created by medical and health care organizations. While 15 percent of the respondents indicated they had heard "a lot" about this effort, 49 percent said they heard "some" or "only a little," and 36 percent said they heard "nothing at all."

Asked about their support for a nationwide system of electronic medical records, 52 percent "strongly" or "somewhat" supported the creation of such a system, while 34 percent "somewhat" or "strongly" opposed the effort.

On the question of patients using technology, more than half were "very" or "somewhat" likely to access their medical records online (56 percent), communicate with their doctor using email (51 percent), schedule a doctor's visit using the Internet (58 percent), and receive results of diagnostic tests through email (52 percent).

Southwesterners were also asked to evaluate health care in this country and in their community.

Older respondents (ages 61 and older) and males rated the quality of health care in this country as "excellent" or "good" 53 percent and 46 percent respectively more often than younger respondents (ages 18-44) and females 36 percent and 35 percent respectively.

Those numbers varied when respondents were asked about the quality of health care in the community where they live. On that question, 55 percent of female respondents rated the quality of health care as "excellent" or "good" compared to 53 percent of male respondents. And, 67 percent of those ages 61 and older rated the quality of health care in their community as "excellent" or "good" compared to 48 percent for those ages 18-30, 54 percent for ages 31-44, and 51 percent for ages 45-60.

On the question of whether they felt they were treated unfairly or with disrespect by the doctor or medical staff in the last two years, 67 percent of the respondents said "never," 21 percent said "rarely," 9 percent said "sometimes" and 2 percent said "frequently."

The poll also asked Southwesterners questions about the economy questions that were asked in previous polls.

More than half 52 percent of Southwesterners expect the national economy to get better in the next year, up from 41 percent of the respondents polled in February 2009 and 35 percent of respondents polled in October 2008.

And, when asked about the economic conditions in their state a year from now, 44 percent said the economy would be better, compared to 39 percent of respondents asked in February 2009, and 31 percent of respondents polled in October 2008.

The Arizona State University-Southwest Poll was conducted by telephone March 30 to May 10 among a random sample of 501 adult residents in the Southwest United States (Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico and Texas.) The results from the full survey have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

It appears that Arizona State University is the only university in the Southwest region conducting a formal regional public opinion poll. This is the fourth such poll since 2008 with a number of the survey questions submitted by faculty researchers. The polling questionnaire is compiled by the professional staff of experts at ASU's Institute for Social Science Research in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. The institute's research facilities include a multi-station telephone interviewing facility with computer-assisted telephone interviewing (CATI) capability and silent monitoring. More information is available at


Contact: Carol Hughes
Arizona State University

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