While the economy ranks as the #1 issue on American voters’ minds, it means way more to Obama voters (56%) than it does to McCain voters (40%).

Health care, too, is a higher priority issue to Obama voters (14%) than to McCain voters (9%).

The poll by Kaiser Family Foundation and Harvard School of Public Health, conducted in September 2008, was released by the sponsors in the October 30 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

McCain and Obama voters share some sympathies with each other when it comes to making health care and insurance more affordable, with 44% of McCain voters and 46% of Obama voters prioritizing that issue. But when it comes to expanding health insurance coverage to the uninsured, only 10% of McCain voters cite that as a priority, compared to 33% of Obama voters wishing to expand health insurance to those uncovered.

Other striking differences in attitudes about American health care systems were revealed in this survey: for example, when it comes to their view of the US health system, 28% of Obama voters believe in a complete overhaul of US health care, vs. 16% of McCain voters.

Perhaps the most striking difference between McCain and Obama voters is their respective view on whose responsibility it is to help ensure Americans receive health insurance coverage: 54% of Obama voters see it as the Federal government’s responsibility, whereas only 20% of McCain voters view the Federal government should be responsible to get the uninsured covered. In contrast, 47% of McCain voters see this as an individual’s responsibility to get coverage, compared to only 18% of Obama voters seeing it as an individual person’s responsibility to receive health insurance coverage.

Two more issues ‘spoke’ to me when it comes to differences between Obama and McCain supporters: where Americans point to areas where federal spending on health care should increase:

  • Programs to prevent disease and improve health, with 67% of Obama voters wanting this spending increase vs. 39% of McCain voters (why Republicans favor preventing care spending less than Democrats is a statistic worth exploring, pollsters).
  • Medicare spending increases, favored by 49% of Obama voters vs. 31% of McCain voters.
  • Biomedical research, wanted by 45% of Obama voters compared to only 24% of McCain voters.

A late-breaking post-script from Deloitte: they just released a press release on a survey finding the following:

  • Eight out of 10 Americans fear that the current financial crisis will affect their ability to pay their medical bills
  • Only 6% of Americans surveyed believe their family is completely prepared to handle future health care costs
  • 7 in 10 believe the financial crisis will make it harder for those who are uninsured to receive medical treatment
  • 2 in 3 Americans believe health care will be an important issue for the new president to address in his first term
  • More than half of respondents surveyed said that reducing costs (67 percent), increasing access (56 percent) and improving quality (57 percent) of health care are issues that are important to them in selecting a president.

Health Populi’s Hot Points: Whoever wins the Presidential post in tomorrow’s election, it is clear from the above that visions of an American Health Future vary by whether someone supports McCain or Obama for the top job in the nation.

There is unity when it comes to voters’ agreements that there are “some good things” about the U.S. system, “but major changes are needed.” We’re at the end of living in American Health Care, version 2.0 — the post-World War II system.

A President McCain or a President Obama will have to truly reach across the proverbial aisle in getting to Kumbayah for a unified, harmonized, efficient and accessible U.S. Health System, version 3.0.

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