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More Than Half of Americans Say Family Skimped on Medical Care Because of Cost in Past Year; Worries About Affordability and Availability of Care Rise
Date:2/24/2009

ix in 10 (62%). However, the partisan divide also remains large with Democrats overwhelmingly (79%) saying reform is more important than ever and most Republicans (58%) saying the nation cannot afford to tackle health care reform at this point. Independents tilt the balance by being in favor of reform now (57%).

Health care continues to rank as one of the top issues on the nation's policy agenda. The economy dominates (71%) the public's priorities for the president and Congress, followed by making Medicare and Social Security more financially sound (49%) -- a new issue added to the list this month. Terrorism (42%) and health care (39%) rank third and fourth.

Interestingly, while the majority of Americans view action on health reform as more important than ever and believe reform would be good for the country as a whole (59%), fewer think it would personally benefit them or their family (39%). A plurality (43%) of Americans do not expect to be personally impacted by reform and a small minority (11%) think they would be worse off.

"Far more people see themselves directly benefiting from health reform and far fewer see themselves being negatively affected than we saw in the Clinton health reform debate. Today's economic anxieties have created a better starting point for health reform than we saw last time around," said Dr. Altman.

While health reform remains popular, the public has high expectations for how easily reform might be achieved. A majority (58%) of Americans say that if policymakers made the right changes, they could reform health care "without spending more money to do it." This majority view is shared across political party identification, age group and income level. A majority (56%) of the public also believes that the health system can be reformed "without changing the existing health care arrangements of people like yourself."

Seven in 10 Americans (72%) have
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SOURCE Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation
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