Three things you should know about recent health care polling

As voters’ priorities shift, there are three things you should know about recent health care polling

Priscilla VanderVeerOctober 23, 2020

Three things you should know about recent health care polling.

Pollsters have been busy this year tracking public sentiment around the top issues of concern for voters. Recent public polling shows that voters priorities have shifted dramatically over the course of the year. With the election less than two weeks away, what is truly on the top of voter’s minds?

  1. The economy and coronavirus are voters’ top priorities. Recent health tracking polls from organizations such as Kaiser Family Foundation and Harvard-Politico show how issues of the economy, COVID-19, racial equity and education have moved to the top of the list. For example, the Kaiser Family Foundation poll released in mid-October shows about three-in-ten registered voters (29%) saying the economy is most important in deciding their vote for president; the coronavirus pandemic is second among all issues, with about one-fifth of voters (18%) citing it as their deciding factor.


As COVID-19 remains among the top issues for voters, our member companies remain focused on achieving one common goal: finding solutions to diagnose, treat, prevent and ultimately end this global pandemic. For decades, the innovative biopharmaceutical industry has continuously pushed the boundaries of science, investing in new technology, research and treatments that help advance medicine, which has enabled us to quickly ramp up the process to find potential treatments and vaccines for COVID-19. We are also working to expand manufacturing capabilities, increase testing and provide financial support and resources.

Additionally, the biopharmaceutical industry has long been an innovation and economic driver in the United States. In fact, since 2000, PhRMA member companies have invested nearly $1 trillion in the search for new treatments and cures, including an estimated $83 billion in 2019 alone and supporting four million U.S. jobs.

  1. Outside of coronavirus, health care has fallen down the list and ranks 4th as an issue for voters. Not including the coronavirus, health care is “no longer a top issue for voters” according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. This is a big shift from earlier in the year, when Kaiser Family Foundation noted health care was “consistently rated as one of thetop issues for voters and was the top issue for Democratic primary voters in all of the seventeen Democratic contests.” Now, universally across demographics and party lines, health care has dropped in importance – a full 14-point reduction overall since February. Voters’ focus has shifted to criminal justice and policing and race relations, in addition to the economy and coronavirus.
  2. Among health care issues specifically, voters care most about protecting coverage for pre-existing conditions, the future of reproductive health and health care affordability. For voters who identified health care as the most important issue informing their vote, “protections for people with pre-existing conditions” topped the list as the most important priority. “Lowering the cost of health care for individuals” comes in third. The lowest priority tested is “lowering prescription drug costs.”


While overall drug costs remain in line with inflation, more and more Americans are facing higher out-of-pocket costs as a result of changes in insurance benefit design. To truly fix the system and address patient affordability challenges, we need long-term solutions like lowering patient cost sharing, reforming the rebate system, and requiring plans to count cost-sharing assistance toward deductibles and out-of-pocket limits rather than excluding it from these calculations.

Ahead of Election Day, and as policymakers consider changes to the health care system, they should have all the facts about where voter priorities truly are. PhRMA will continue advocating to help fixing the health care system so that it works better for patients. 


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