Health Care Not ‘Determining’ Issue in Election, HIAA Survey Says
Health care issues were not the determining factor for voters in the Nov. 7 election, according to a "bipartisan" post-election survey released yesterday by the Health Insurance Association of America. Since 1991, the HIAA, an association representing insurance companies, has conducted post-election surveys on how health care issues influence voters' decisions (HIAA release, 11/9). In conjunction with the HIAA, pollsters at Public Opinion Strategies and the Mellman Group completed two nationwide surveys: a pre-election survey on Oct. 16-19 including 800 likely voters and a post-election survey on Nov. 7 among 800 actual voters. The results from this year's post- election survey include the following:
- When asked which one or two issues were "most important" when voting for president (aside from character or other personal issues), 11% of voters chose health care, coming in 5th behind social security (24%), education (23%), abortion (16%), taxes (13%) and the economy (12%);
- Regarding House and Senate choices, surveyors asked voters to rate the importance of candidates' positions on a variety of issues. Eighty-three percent of voters ranked "helping more families and children get health care coverage" as "extremely" or "very" important. Eighty-three percent also ranked "requiring that doctors, not HMOs, make medical decisions" extremely/very important. Seventy percent rated "reforming HMOs by passing a patients' bill of rights," as extremely/very important. Bill McInturff, partner and co-founder of Public Opinion strategies and pollster for Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) during his presidential race for the primaries, explained that although these two issues represent roughly the same thing, voters are more receptive to the "language" in the former issue -- enough to account for a 13-point spread. Seventy-nine percent of voters felt providing seniors with prescription drug coverage was extremely/very important, and 76% gave this ranking to "comprehensive reform of today's health care system;"
- Regarding campaign commercials aired in the three weeks leading up to the election, 63% of those polled said they "heard a lot" or "some" on the topic of prescription drug coverage, making it the third most heard-about topic in campaign ads;
- When asked "how good of a job" the federal government or the private sector would do if given the responsibility of "implementing and actually running the health care system," 78% felt the federal government would do a "poor or fair job," while only 18% of voters felt the federal government would do an "excellent" or "very good" job. Sixty-five percent of voters surveyed felt the private sector would do a poor/fair job, while 32% felt the private sector would do an excellent/very good job. Mark Mellman, CEO of Mellman Group and a leading strategist for the Democratic Party, noted that these results suggest "the difficulty voters had in navigating" health care issues. He added, "There is very little clarity on what to do, who should do it and how it should be done."