What do you stand on covering the uninsured in America? Do you support government mandates for health insurance or a market-based approach? Should the Federal government directly negotiate drug prices with pharma companies?

Go visit Health Central’s Healthcare ’08 website to visually see where you stand on health issues compared to the Presidential candidates. Since the site’s inception early this year, many candidates have dropped out. As of today, there are two Democratic candidates (Clinton and Obama), and three Republicans (Huckabee, McCain, and Paul).
The measurement tool which HealthCentral calls “the Poligraph” is a clever two-by-two matrix arrayed on six health issues: the uninsured, health reform, drug prices, prevention, technology and stem cells. The x-axis is generally defined as government support vs. market-based solution (except for support for stem cell research, which is organized by “unrestricted” vs. “prohibited”); the y-axis is “more important” vs. “less important.” Thus, the Poligraph generates four scenarios based on the two axes.

Clinton and Obama are generally in the upper left quadrant — support for the issues being government-supported, -mandated, -driven, or -regulated.

The ‘swing’ Republican is McCain, who migrates over to the Clinton-Obama camp for stem cell support and for Federal drug price negotiation.

Huckabee only moves toward the Democrats when it comes to prevention — remember, he’s the guy who’s lost 120 pounds so is fairly passionate about health promotion (but not enough to have government involved much).

Based on the Poligraph, I see that regarding the issue of “technology,” the Republicans aren’t nearly as bullish as President Bush has been (at least verbally) in supporting health IT.

This project has been criticized for being two-dimensional and too simple. See my friend Matthew Holt’s The Health Care Blog for some lively discussion. Here’s where I weight in on this: even if the Poligraph is + or – 20% ‘off,’ the tool engages consumers how most want to be engaged: in sound bites and graphic simplicity. Most won’t read in-depth commentary on health policy in the New York Times or for an hour on Fox News, even if that might be “better” for them in terms of comprehensiveness. It’s TiVo time in media-consuming households, so the Poligraph is useful as far as it goes.

Kudos to The HealthCentral Network for bringing this simple graphic tool to the web. HealthCentral hosts a long list of support networks for consumers, as well as providing health content through multimedia affiliate relationships including Harvard Health Publications, HealthDay, A.D.A.M, and Ivanhoe, among other health info brands.

Health Populi’s Hot Points: It’s good to see a site that focuses on clinical health information and health social networks talk about health politics. HealthCentral understands the fact that health policy directly impacts patients. While this may seem self-evident, the fact certainly doesn’t seem to get a majority of voters to the polls. Even though health care is a top-three election year issue among voters (see my analysis of the Kaiser Health Poll here), Americans en masse aren’t yet activated on the issue. By November, they may well be, with the influence and empowerment afforded by HealthCentral’s Poligraph and other online sources of accessible health policy information.

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