Public Ranks Drug Costs and Sufficient Provider Networks Ahead of Affordable Care Act Changes as Health Care Priorities for Next President and Congress to Address

As the 2016 campaign nears its end, the latest Kaiser Health Tracking Poll examines the public’s view on health care priorities for the next president and Congress. Overall, Americans rank addressing high prescription drug costs and ensuring adequate provider networks in insurance plans among their top health care priorities.

Health care itself is not playing a major role in the election, as the poll finds the candidates’ characteristics, the economy and jobs, and foreign policy ranking are the top factors behind voters’ decision. The poll looks beyond the election to assess the public’s top health care priorities once the results are known.

Making sure that high-cost drugs for chronic conditions are affordable to those who need them is viewed as a “top priority” by three quarters (74%) of the public, including large majorities of Democrats, Republicans and independents. In addition, nearly two-thirds (63%) of the public say government action to lower prescription drug prices is a top priority. Other top priorities include making sure health plans have sufficient doctor and hospital networks (57%) and protecting people from high charges when they visit an in-network hospital but are seen by an out-of-network doctor (54%).

Fewer cite various changes to the Affordable Care Act as top priorities for the next president and Congress, such as helping people with moderate incomes pay high out-of-pocket costs for medical care (44%), repealing the law entirely (37%), and repealing specific provisions requiring nearly all Americans to have health insurance or pay a fine (38%) and requiring employers with 50 or more workers to pay a fine if they don’t offer health insurance to their workers (29%). Among Republicans, however, repealing the Affordable Care Act entirely remains a top issue, ranking second among health care priorities.

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