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Poll: Health-care reform no big deal to most

Want to know why President Obama continues to have trouble gaining traction in the national debate about health-care reform? A Franklin & Marshall College poll to be released today offers a few key clues. The national survey of 1,046 people, including 900 registered voters, found that only one in five considered health care to be the most important problem facing their families today.

Want to know why President Obama continues to have trouble gaining traction in the national debate about health-care reform?

A Franklin & Marshall College poll to be released today offers a few key clues. The national survey of 1,046 people, including 900 registered voters, found that only one in five considered health care to be the most important problem facing their families today.

By comparison, half of those polled said the economy and their personal finances were their biggest day-to-day concerns.

Issues like the war in Iraq, terrorism, education and crime barely registered as concerns.

So although the health-care debate raged all summer, with raucous town-hall meetings and cable-news shouting matches, the poll found most people happy with their own situations.

That may be because 88 percent of those polled have health insurance provided by an employer, the government or a private plan. That matches up closely with what the U.S. Census found for health-care coverage, according to Terry Madonna, director of the Franklin & Marshall College poll.

Those polled were fairly satisfied - 37 percent said their insurance was very good, 38 percent said theirs was good and 18 percent called theirs fair.

Still, Madonna found some "ambiguity and contradictions" in the poll on health-care issues.

Asked to compare our health care with that of other "advanced industrial nations," 36 percent said it was above average, 29 percent called it average and 30 percent said it was below average.

Fifty-six percent said the nation's health-care system was not meeting their needs in terms of costs. One in four polled said that at some point in the last 12 months, they skipped a recommended medical test or treatment or did not fill a prescription due to the cost.

Seventy-nine percent said the health-care system needs reform but there was little agreement on how to do that. Forty-three percent said the system needs "only minor changes," and 47 percent want it "completely rebuilt."

The poll also found a split on Obama's job performance - 51 percent ranked it excellent or good, and 47 percent ranked it as fair or poor.

"He's been a pretty good spokesman in general terms for what he wants to accomplish," Madonna said. "I think that's why, even though his job performance has dropped, in the speeches he has made he has articulated a lot of the goals that the American people would like to see achieved."