The overwhelming preponderance of news stories in the national media that focused on health care in the last year dealt with the Medicare's prescription drug program. However, that wasn't what most garnered the public's interest, according to a study in Health Affairs.
In an examination of public opinion polls, the authors report that when asked what health care problems the government should address, 43 percent of respondents say health care costs, while 34 percent say uninsured/access to care. The Medicare prescription drug program comes next, with only 15 percent.
Moreover, health care in general is a "second-tier" issue. "Today it ranks as the fourth most important issue for the government to address, behind the war, the economy, and gasoline/oil prices/energy," states the study titled "Understanding the American Public's Health Priorities: A 2006 Perspective." However, it adds that "Of note, although health care is not among the top-priority issues for government action, it ranks higher today than many other national problems often identified as being very important. Health care issues rank higher than terrorism, the top issue in late 2001, as well as education, the environment (including global warming), Social Security, poverty, crime, and problems in the developing world."