55% of Americans have taken at least one action to delay medical care because of cost in the past year, according to the June 2009 Kaiser Health Tracking Poll.

Most prevalent strategies for health cost avoidance include relying on home remedies and over-the-counter drugs instead of seeing a doctor, skipping dental care, postponing getting health care people think they need, skipping a recommended test or treatment, and not filling a prescription — all shown in the chart.

A steady 61% of Americans believe it is “more important than ever to take on health care reform now,” about the same percentage of Americans believing that since October 2008. While this sentiment splits along party affiliation, with 74% of Democrats feeling this way, most Republicans believe we can’t afford to take on health care reform now.

One of the few areas where Americans tend to agree across party lines is in their willingness to pay for more Americans to be insured. In December 2008, 49% of Americans said they would not be willing to pay more to reduce the number of uninsured; by June, the number unwilling to pay to increase access rose to 54%. There is bipartisan agreement that health reform can be accomplished without spending more money.

Health Populi’s Hot Points: The economy is driving consensus among American health citizens, a majority of whom want to see health reform. The fact that over one-half of Americans have done “something” to manage their household health costs bolsters the public’s pro-health reform position.

Americans are open to a variety of strategies that would increase health insurance coverage, such as individual and/or employer mandates and the use of tax credits to fund increased access, However, their positions still appear quite changeable based on KFF’s polling data.

This leaves room for competing health stakeholders to make their arguments to the public-at-large through traditional and, I predict, non-traditional means. Watch for social networks, tweets, and YouTube-style videos to virally “inform” and populate the public discussion. There will be a lot of clutter: the most compelling and creative messages and messaging styles will be able to break through the same-old, same-old public relations and advocacy.

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