Americans Rank Prevention as Most Important Health Reform Priority

Trust for America's Health (TFAH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) released a new public opinion survey, which finds that Americans rank prevention as the most important health care reform priority, and overwhelmingly support increasing funding for prevention programs to reduce disease and keep people healthy.

In the poll, conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research and Public Opinion Strategies, 70 percent of Americans ranked investing in prevention between an eight and 10 on a scale of zero to ten, where zero means not at all an important health care priority and 10 means very important. Forty-six percent rated prevention as a 10 out of 10. Overall, prevention was rated higher than all other proposals, including providing tax credits to small businesses and prohibiting health insurers from denying coverage based on health status.

More than three-quarters of Americans (76 percent) support increasing funding for prevention programs that provide people with information and resources and creating policies that help people make healthier choices. Investing in prevention is popular across the political spectrum, with 86 percent of Democrats, 71 percent of Republicans, and 70 percent of Independents supporting investing more in prevention.

While Americans believe that prevention will save money (77 percent agree with the statement that "prevention will save us money"), they strongly support prevention regardless of its impact on costs. Rather, they point clearly to keeping people healthy as the best reason to invest in prevention, with 72 percent agreeing with the statement that "investing in prevention is worth it even if it doesn't save us money, because it will prevent disease and save lives." Additionally, 57 percent agree more with the statement "we should invest in prevention to keep people healthier and improve quality of life" than the statement "we should invest in prevention to lower health care costs" (21 percent).

Americans believe the nation needs to put more emphasis on prevention (59 percent) rather than thinking there needs to be more emphasis on treatment (15 percent), by nearly a four to one ratio. This represents a significant shift toward prevention over the last two decades -- in 1987, only 45 thought there should be greater emphasis on prevention.

The poll reflects the responses from 1,014 registered voters, was conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research and Public Opinion Strategies from May 7 to 12, 2009. The margin of error was +/- 3.1 percent.


Trust for America's Health is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to saving lives by protecting the health of every community and working to make disease prevention a national priority. www.healthyamericans.org.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing our country. As the nation's largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to improving the health and health care of all Americans, the Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, meaningful and timely change. For more than 35 years the Foundation has brought experience, commitment, and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems that affect the health and health care of those it serves. Helping Americans lead healthier lives and get the care they need--the Foundation expects to make a difference in our lifetime. For more information, visit www.rwjf.org.

Poll Materials

Complete Survey Memo

Charts

Press Release

Partnership for Prevention Podcast #14 - TFAH Poll Re: American Attitudes on Prevention