HEALTH ISSUES: Survey Finds Subject On Voters’ Minds
Health care is one of the most important issues for the state's gubernatorial candidates to address, according to a new survey by the California HealthCare Foundation and The Field Institute. Overall, survey respondents said health care was second only to education as the most important issue of this year's gubernatorial election, and for the first time in many years, health care outranked crime in the hierarchy of voters' concerns. "If I were a candidate running for office, I'd pay close attention to the messages -- direct and indirect -- that these survey respondents are sending," said Mark Smith, president and CEO of the California HealthCare Foundation. He added, "The results of the survey clearly indicate that the public is aware of and concerned about health care issues and is looking to state office holders for leadership."
By The Numbers
Forty-three percent of those surveyed said health care was their top concern, following the 60% who said education was their main worry. However, a majority (51%) of both women and seniors said that health care was the "most important" issue. In addition, African Americans and Latinos, as well as Californians with annual incomes under $20,000, displayed a greater concern about health care as an election issue. Sixty-four percent of African Americans said health care was their "most important" concern, as did 60% of Latinos and 66% of those making less than $20,000 per year. When asked to rank five specific health care issues for the next governor and legislature to address, 69% said a top concern was "guaranteeing that all children receive basic, preventive care;" 66% said another top concern was "assuring availability of affordable health insurance for all Californians;" 61% said they were concerned about "assuring that health plans give people easy access to specialists;" 59% said they wanted to ensure "that when people get sick, they have access to care, regardless of insurance status or ability to pay," and 48% said a top concern was "ensuring that people have a place to go outside their health plan to appeal plan decisions." When offered the chance to state in their own words what specific health care questions they would ask the gubernatorial candidates, the most frequently mentioned topics were questions about how the candidates would increase access to care or expand health care coverage for children and the elderly.
Ways and Means
The survey is part of the California HealthCare Foundation's HealthVote '98 project to inform the debate on health care in the upcoming election. The poll was conducted among 1,204 state residents in English and Spanish between August 18-24. It has a margin of error of plus/minus three percent (California HealthCare Foundation release, 9/14).