With just over a month to go before the election, the public dialogue about the issues facing our communities, our state, and our nation is intense. The economy and jobs are consistently identified as the most important issues for the American people in this election. According to the most recent Pew Research Center poll over 80% of those polled identify those two issues as “very important to their vote.”
In the same Pew poll, healthcare is the number three issue with nearly three-quarters of those polled saying that health care is very important to their vote.
Conventional wisdom says that health care is such a personal issue that we must always appeal to people’s self-interest when we talk about it. However, data from the Colorado Health Access Survey suggests that the people of Colorado have a bigger picture view of health care challenges than we might think.
The good news is over 3 million Coloradans believe the current health care system is meeting the needs of their family. The not-so-good news is that 1.7 million Coloradans do not believe that the health care system is meeting the needs of their family. What is interesting is that when the question was expanded to ask, “Is the current health care system meeting the needs of most Coloradans?” the numbers were reversed—3 million Coloradans don’t think so.
Clearly, there is a broad recognition of the challenges we face with health care, and Coloradans are concerned that our system isn’t working well enough. From the families who cannot afford the coverage and care they need to the families who have all the necessary resources but experience a string of bad luck, Coloradans understand that their friends, neighbors, and community members need the health care system to work for them, too.
No matter the outcome of the upcoming election, we have work to do. If over one-third of Coloradans are not being adequately served by our current system, then the system needs to change. It will mean re-thinking how we provide and pay for health care. It will mean personal responsibility for our own health. It will mean changing state and national policy as well as implementing community-based solutions. We all have a role to play—together, we can ensure our health care system allows all Coloradans to get the care they need, when they need it.