Vital Signs Blog

Blog: Democrats, women more likely to think about healthcare this election

Most voters say healthcare is either very or extremely important to them as they think about this year's presidential election, but what they actually mean by healthcare varies by party, a new poll shows.

The Kaiser Family Foundation poll released Wednesday found that 36% of registered voters surveyed said healthcare was "extremely important" and 42% said it was "very important." Voters cared most about the economy/jobs and more people said terrorism was extremely important than said the same about healthcare.

For Democrats, it was the top concern, even above the economy. It was less important for Republicans and Independents but still among the top five most important topics.

When asked about their concerns more specifically, 36% of Democrats said they were thinking of healthcare costs and 28% said access to care and insurance. For Republicans, 42% said it was about repealing the Affordable Care Act.

The number of Democrats who have already cast a primary ballot this year and named healthcare as the most important issue for them has ranged from state to state. It has generally been a percentage in the upper teens or low 20s. Healthcare isn't among the issues Republican primary voters have had as an option when naming the most important issue for them.

Mollyann Brodie, senior vice president of survey research at KFF, said it is difficult to compare absolute numbers from primary exit polls with this survey because the questions are worded differently and the survey goes more in-depth.

Both measures show that healthcare is one important issue but rarely the only important issue for voters. This is similar to about the past 20 years of elections, she said.

“I think that we're seeing healthcare play the role that it's played in many of the last elections,” she said.

Women were more likely than men to say healthcare is extremely important to their presidential vote, particularly among Republicans.

About a third of respondents said there is a wide-scale effort to limit women's reproductive healthcare choices. Women and Democrats were mostly likely to agree with this.

A majority of Democrats, 62%, said they trusted Hillary Clinton most with women's health issues. She was also the leader among Independents. Among Republicans, 26% said Donald Trump and 21% said Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. Republicans were more likely to name a Democratic candidate than Ohio Gov. John Kasich or Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who has dropped out of the race.

Another poll released Wednesday found that 48% of respondents said they support repealing the Cadillac tax on high-end insurance plans under the ACA.

The tax has been delayed for at least two years and is opposed even by some supporters of the ACA, including both Democratic presidential candidates.

The poll, conducted on behalf of the American Benefits Council, which supports repeal of the tax, found that Republicans were most likely to say it should be scrapped.


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