Kaiser Health Tracking Poll: It’s the economy, stupid.

The October Kaiser Health Tracking Poll: Election 2008 is out and it is no surprise that health care reform has dropped to a position well behind the economy and the war in Iraq as issues voters want candidates to address.  The latest national survey of 1,207 adults found for the first time since the Foundation began this latest series of tracking polls in March 2007, that one issue was volunteered by more than half of voters as the main thing they want to hear the presidential candidates discuss – It’s the economy, stupid.

The survey showed that the economic crisis that has impacted Wall Street and Washington this week is creating some real pocketbook problems for large numbers of Americans.

  • 63% reported a “serious” problem with at least one of seven financial hurdles
  • 39% reported problems paying for gas
  • 33% reported “serious problems” getting a good-paying job or a raise
  • 30% reported problems paying for health care and insurance (up from 24% last month)
  • 21% reported difficulties paying for housing
  • 20% reported problems paying for food

Health Plan Innovation Take: While fewer Americans are citing health care as the major issue that they are looking for candidates to address, it is clear that this is an issue that remains just below the surface. As the economy continues to worsen and unemployment levels climb, health care is becoming just another of the basics, along with housing, gas and food, that consumers are struggling to fund.

This latest wave of high unemployment will provide fuel to those at the state and national levels who want to see employers take a less active role in providing health insurance. Look for more states to take a hard look at the Massachusetts model of mandates, and cooperation between state run agencies and private health plans.

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