Reducing Costs? Ensuring Access? Public Split on Top Health Care Priorities

When it comes to reforming health care, voters believe reducing the cost of care and ensuring that everyone has access to it are top priorities. When asked which is more important, a poll found that 51% say reducing the cost of care is the higher priority while 49% think ensuring access for everyone is more important (see question wording and crosstab results).

The two priorities, of course, are not always in conflict. Reducing the cost of care will generally improve access to care. However, at times, choices between the two goals have to be made.

In practical terms, tensions between many competing priorities present critical challenges for reform efforts. asked about many potential trade-offs and found voters are fairly evenly divided on all of them.

  • Fifty-four percent (56%) say it’s more important for everyone to be able to select their own doctor rather than to reduce costs. Forty-four percent (44%) take the opposite view.
  • By a similar 52% to 48% margin, reducing the waiting time for doctor visits and surgeries is narrowly preferred over ensuring that everyone has access to care.
  • Fifty-one percent (51%) place a higher priority on getting new treatments to patients sooner while 49% think it’s more important to focus on trying to eliminate risks of new treatments.
  • Forty-eight percent (48%) think it’s more important for the government to decide when new treatments are safe. Fifty-two percent (52%), however, think a greater emphasis should be placed on letting patients decide if they want to try risky new treatments.

These results highlight underlying attitudes rather than policy positions and the numbers could move dramatically with additional details. For example, it is likely that there would be more support for letting people try risky new treatments if the patients were identified as terminally ill. Overall, however, these latest results show that attitudes have not budged since last November. updates health care polling data twice each month. The latest data is always available here.

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The national survey of 1,000 Registered Voters was conducted March 21-22, 2019 by and HarrisX, a polling company specializing in online surveys (see Methodology). It has a 3.1 percentage point Margin of Error with a 95% level of confidence.

Neither Scott Rasmussen nor has any relationship with Rasmussen Reports® (see About Us).

Posted in Poll Results

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