Health Costs, Medical Bills Are Top Economic Concern Among Voters: Poll

Unexpected health costs and surprise medical bills are among the leading concerns of voters heading into the 2024 election, which contribute to their negative views about the economy, according to a poll released Wednesday by health policy research group KFF.

At least 8 in 10 voters said it was “very important” for the 2024 presidential candidates to talk about inflation and the affordability of health care. In addition, adults said they care more about being able to afford unexpected medical bills than routine expenses such as gas, utilities, food and housing costs.

Overall, 67 percent of voters rated the national economy as “not so good” or “poor.”

The concern over unexpected medical bills and the cost of health care services in general was expressed by majorities of both parties as well as independents. At least 7 in 10 Democrats and Republicans said they were “very” or “somewhat worried,” the survey found.

Health care has consistently been a winning issue for Democrats in recent elections, and President Biden’s reelection campaign wants to highlight both present and future ways he is lowering costs for Americans.

The administration is focusing on pocketbook issues aimed at helping families keep expenses in check and tying health policies to Biden’s economic successes.

Biden’s campaign has been touting some of the president’s signature achievements to make drug prices affordable and bring down health costs, such as capping insulin costs in Medicare and allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices.

Yet the survey results show Biden has more work to do when it comes to drawing a distinction with former President Trump.

Those who report difficulty affording monthly bills are more likely to view the national economy negatively and are more likely to worry about affording health care and other routine expenses.

They are also more likely to want the presidential candidates to talk about economic issues, including health care costs and the future of Medicaid, compared to voters who can easily afford their bills.

Notably, the survey found neither Biden nor Trump hold a clear advantage on health costs, but Republicans gave Trump higher marks than Democrats gave Biden.

About 33 percent of Democratic voters said Biden has done enough to address health care costs, while 59 percent of Republican voters said Trump has done enough.

The survey found just 14 percent of voters overall said Biden has done more than Trump and has done enough to address health care costs.

At the same time, 26 percent of voters said Trump has done more than Biden and that he did enough on health costs, possibly because voters have a rosier retrospective view of Trump’s presidency and are currently largely dissatisfied with the state of the economy overall.

An earlier KFF poll from November showed few adults in the U.S. are aware that the Inflation Reduction Act is meant to bring down the cost of prescription drugs for people on Medicare — despite Biden signing the law more than a year ago.

Only 32 percent of adults said they were aware that there’s a law that requires the federal government to negotiate the price of some drugs for Medicare enrollees, though that is up from 25 percent in July.

The survey was conducted from Jan. 30 to Feb. 7 online and by telephone among a nationally representative sample of 1,309 U.S. adults, including 1,055 registered voters.


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