WASHINGTON -- In the United States, concerns over healthcare and unemployment have edged higher in the public's consciousness over the last year as worries about the overall economy eased, a poll conducted for the Associated Press poll by Ipsos-Public Affairs found.
When asked in an open-ended question to name the most important problems facing the United States, healthcare costs were mentioned by 19% in the poll, up from 11% a year ago and 5% percent two years ago. Twice as many women (26%) as men (13%) cited that as a top problem. Democrats were twice as likely as Republicans to say healthcare was one of the most important problems.
Diana Bauer, a food service director from Fresno, Calif., said she's convinced doctors sometimes "demand too much because they know insurance companies will pay it."
In contrast, unemployment was mentioned by 14%, up slightly from 9% a year ago. Minorities were twice as likely as whites to say unemployment was a major concern.
While 21% of those polled cited terrorism as a top concern, it was about the same proportion that have done so each quarter in the past year. Nearly one-third called terrorism a top problem in January 2002. Republicans were nearly twice as likely as Democrats to mention terrorism as one of the most important problems.
The AP-Ipsos poll of 1,000 adults was taken Jan. 5-7 and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points. When asked an open-ended question, poll respondents must offer an answer that comes to mind, rather than choose from a list of options given to them. They were allowed to offer more than one top problem in their answer.