Poll: Prevention Top Health Reform Priority For Americans

    • June 8, 2009

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Trust for America’s Health have released a new poll showing overwhelming support by Americans for investment in prevention. The poll comes just as Congress is expected to begin considering reform proposals that could create sweeping changes in the U.S. health care system.

The poll, conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research and Public Opinion Strategies, found that more than three quarters (76 percent) of Americans believe that the level of funding for prevention should be increased. A 53 percent majority feel strongly that we should invest more in prevention and, strikingly, while a vast majority believe that prevention will save money, more than seven in 10 support an investment in prevention regardless of whether or not it will save money.

“This poll shows that Americans from coast to coast and across the political spectrum are overwhelmingly in favor of investing in disease prevention,” said Al Quinlan, president of Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research.  “More than three-quarters of Americans believe the country should invest more in keeping people healthier, and by a nearly 4-to-1 ratio, they support putting more emphasis on preventing disease rather than treating people after they become sick.”

“We know that strategic investments in disease prevention programs in communities can result in a big payoff in a short time—reducing health care costs, increasing the productivity of the nation’s workforce, and helping people lead healthier lives,” said Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, M.D., M.B.A. president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

 “For too long, health care has focused on treating people after they become sick instead of trying to help them stay healthy in the first place,” said Jeff Levi, Ph.D., executive director of TFAH. “This poll shows the American public strongly believes it’s time we shift from a sick care system to a true health care system that stresses disease prevention.” 

Support for increased funding for prevention is not bound by political partisanship, nor geography: 86 percent of Democrats, 71 percent of Republicans and 70 percent of Independents believe we should invest more in prevention. The poll also found support for increased prevention throughout the country—79 percent in the Northeast, 78 percent in the South, 76 percent in the West and 72 percent in the Midwest.

The poll reflects the responses from 1,014 registered voters and was conducted from May 7 to 12, 2009. The margin of error was +/- 3.1 percent.