In the long political battle over President Obama’s landmark health care reform, Obamacare opponents have argued that an overhaul to the nation’s health care system isn’t necessary because Americans don’t struggle or die due to a lack of access to insurance. But public opinion says otherwise, as Americans continue to rate health care access and the high cost of insurance as their top medical concerns.
According to Gallup’s annual Health and Healthcare Survey, four in ten Americans cite either healthcare access or cost as the most urgent health problem currently facing the country. And the Americans who responded to Gallup with some critique of the health care system surpasses the number of Americans who named a specific illness, like cancer or diabetes, as their top medical concern. Americans have ranked their worries about being able to get coverage under a health insurance plan at the top of their list of concerns since 2007:
Since the Affordable Care Act won’t be fully in effect until 2014, it may take another few years before the health law helps ease American’s concerns about losing their health insurance. If Obamacare isn’t blocked from taking effect in Republican-controlled states, it will extend coverage to 30 million previously uninsured Americans by expanding the Medicaid program for additional low-income beneficiaries and creating state-run health exchange markets.
But Gallup notes there’s one other health concern that may soon surpass Americans’ worries about insurance access and cost: the national obesity epidemic. Gallup first started including obesity in their annual health survey in 1999, when only about one percent of Americans rated it as a health concern — but as obesity and diabetes rates have soared across the country, that number has steadily risen to its current peak of 16 percent. Most residents in all 50 states are now considered either overweight or obese, and the number of kids with type 2 diabetes is projected to increase by 50 percent by 2050.