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Where Should Our Health Care Priorities Be? Posted: April 15th, 2010

With the passage of the monumental health care reform bill, the country still remains polarized with differing opinions of the legislation. Although most agree that something needs to be done to address access and cost, not everyone agrees on what the priorities should be. Interestingly, you can attribute many of the differences of opinion to the different demographic makeup of U.S. citizens.

A recent survey of 1,021 U.S. consumers found significant disagreements among people with different levels of education and income. Other factors included age and access to health insurance.

DSS Research, a national marketing research firm specializing in health care, focused on a health insurance comparison of potential solutions. They asked survey participants if universal access or curtailing costs should be the priority. The survey results were pretty much split down the middle with 50.7 percent choosing access for all citizens and 49.3 percent selecting managing costs.

Survey participants with the lowest incomes and less education tended to pick access. Not surprisingly, the uninsured also emphasized access, presumably because they've experienced the sticker shock of health care bills. While those with higher education and income had no illusions of cheap medical insurance, they did prefer to focus on cost reduction.

DSS Research then provided survey participants with nine reasonable solutions to address access and cost, and asked them which approach they prefer. More than 35 percent cited incentives and tax breaks to make insurance more affordable as their first choice. A large percentage also listed this as their second choice. In fact, almost two-thirds of those polled picked this as their first or second choice.

Twenty-nine percent preferred a government health insurance option as their first choice based on the theory that level playing field competition with commercial carriers would promote the cheapest health insurance. Younger survey participants were almost twice as likely as seniors to choose this as their first choice.

Age seemed to play a role in another potential solution. Almost half of participating seniors supported reducing government regulations as well as caps on medical malpractice as their first or second option. Younger participants generally did not prefer this option, and overall only 18 percent of participants selected this approach as their first priority.