NEW YORK, NY – Whether the next president is our current one or one of his Democratic challengers, four out of five voters believe reducing health care costs should be one of his or her top priorities, according to a new poll.
The NBC News/Commonwealth Fund Health Care Poll of 1,594 likely voters was taken in advance of the March 3 Super Tuesday primaries.
Voters in 14 states and American Samoa will cast their ballots for the Democratic and Republican presidential nominees next week and health care has emerged in recent weeks as one of the top issues in the 2020 election, at times dominating the Democratic presidential debates.
The poll asked voters about their concerns regarding health care and their confidence in President Trump or the Democratic presidential candidates to help fix what’s ailing the U.S. health system.
Among the poll’s overall findings were that nearly one-quarter of likely voters said they are very or moderately worried about their ability to afford their health care in the next 12 months.
Those most worried were Democrats, voters leaning Democratic, Hispanics, and people earning less than $50,000 a year.
But nearly one of five Republicans also said they’re very or moderately worried about paying for their health care.
When people were asked about specific health care costs, their worries grew.
About three in 10 likely voters said they are very or moderately worried about the amount they will have to pay over the next 12 months for their health insurance premiums and deductibles, out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs and other health care, and long-term care, such as home care or a nursing home stay.
One-third or more of Democrats, those leaning Democratic, people with incomes under $50,000, and blacks and Hispanics were concerned.
One of four Republicans and voters who lean Republican also expressed concern about being able to pay for these health care expenses.
Many patients have reported getting surprise bills for health care they thought was covered by their insurance policy, with some bills totaling in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Congress is currently considering legislation to protect Americans from such bills.
Over one-quarter of likely voters reported they are worried about receiving an unexpected or surprise medical bill in the next 12 months.
More than one-third of Democrats, people leaning Democratic, blacks, Hispanics, and people earning less than $50,000 were concerned about surprise bills.
About one of five Republicans and voters who lean Republican also said they were concerned about unexpected medical bills.
For many people, worries about paying for health care are rooted in experience. One in five likely voters said that they had difficulty paying medical bills, or were unable to pay them, in the past two years. Of those reporting medical bill problems, many said they had resorted to extreme measures to pay bills, including dipping into retirement funds or selling personal items like jewelry or furniture.
Other respondents said they avoided getting care altogether because of costs, with many saying a health problem worsened as a result.
More than one in five likely voters said either their health problem or one experienced by a family member had gotten worse in the past 12 months after they delayed getting care or medications because of the cost. The groups reporting this at the highest rates were adults ages 18 to 34, people with incomes under $50,000, and Hispanics.
Regardless of who is elected president in November, large majorities of likely voters think he or she should make it a top priority to reduce the amount people pay for health care.
Nearly four-fifths of likely voters think that reducing what people pay for health insurance (including premiums and deductibles) and what they pay out of pocket for prescription drugs and other health care should all be high priorities.
While Democrats and people leaning Democratic were significantly more likely to say this, the majority who are Republican and Republican-leaning think these initiatives also should be a high priority.
The poll asked people whether what they had heard so far from the Democratic candidates or Trump gave them confidence that either would take action as president next year to make health care more affordable.
More than half of likely voters said they are very or somewhat confident that if a Democrat became the next president, he or she would work to make health care more affordable for them.
On this same question, just over four of 10 likely voters said they are very or somewhat confident in Trump taking on the issue if he is reelected.
The survey consisted of telephone interviews, including cellphones and landlines, conducted among a random, nationally representative sample. The sample population for the poll was limited to adults who reported they would definitely vote in the 2020 presidential election (“likely voter”). The final sample size among likely voters was 1,594.
The poll has a 2.4% margin of error.