A recent survey of voters in Iowa regarding health care issues has revealed what may be a vital trend for the upcoming 2008 elections. If the survey results are any indication, the American public - and more importantly, the voting public - wants more choices and more access to complementary and alternative medicine.
Iowa, considered a perennial key battleground state for national elections, holds the first caucus of the year on Jan. 3, 2008.
The survey was conducted between Aug. 23, 2007 and Sept. 13, 2007, by the Gilmore Research Group on behalf of the nonpartisan, nonprofit, Seattle-based group CodeBlueNow! It conducted a telephone survey of 601 registered Iowa voters regarding their opinions on the current state of health care in the U.S. Voters were selected randomly to represent a cross-section of voters in the state.
Almost all of the respondents (96%) had some sort of health insurance compared with 80% of all Iowa residents and the national average of 84%. Most of those surveyed had a primary-care doctor (88%). While the majority of respondents were happy with their health care access (80%) and the quality of care (85%), less than half were satisfied with the cost of their health care (41%).
Looking more closely at this dissatisfaction, less than three in 10 respondents were satisfied with national access to health care (26%). Less than half were satisfied with the overall quality of health care Americans receive (43%) and a dismal 14% were satisfied with the cost of health care for all Americans.
None of this should come as any great surprise, in the wake of documentary filmmaker Michael Moore's exposé of the current health care crisis, Sicko. What is intriguing, however, is that 43% of respondents strongly agreed and 25% agreed with the following statement: "Basic health benefits should include coverage for any licensed health care professional such as naturopaths, acupuncturists and chiropractors, as long as they are certified and licensed by the state and by their profession." This makes for a startling 68% who were in favor of greater access to CAM treatments and providers. Furthermore, another 21% were neutral on the issue.
John Weeks, publisher of the Integrator Blog (http://theintegratorblog.com), offers even more insight into the data findings: "In the question about inclusion of licensed CAM practitioners, 89% are not opposed. To put this in politico-speak: The inclusion issue has low negatives. Directly stated: A politician wouldn't be expected to lose much from voters by running with this idea as a platform. (There may be some push back from conventional stakeholders, however.) These low negatives, paired with the high percentage who could be activated by a candidate's outspoken support of the issue suggests that it may further a candidate's chances if he or she crosses the great water and brings up this issue."
In an effort to get an even better picture of how voters feel about CAM, the Integrator Blog went one step further and, in conjunction with CodeBlueNow!, did a cross-tabulation analysis of the data to determine how those who agreed or strongly agreed with CAM access answered other important health care questions within the survey. Listed below are the other statements and the percentage of those who agreed or strongly agreed with them who also agreed or strongly agreed with the statement regarding CAM. (The full table can be accessed online.)
We must make sure every person in America has health coverage to assure affordable access to the health care services they need. (73%)
Health care is a community responsibility for public safety like the fire department or police. (75%)
Health insurance should be paid for by tax dollars and managed by local, state or federal government. (75%)
Employers should continue to play the major role in providing health insurance for their employees. (72%)
Health insurance should be a personal responsibility like automobile insurance. (65%)
We should have one set of basic health benefits for all our people. (76%)
Health care services should stress preventing disease rather than relying on high technology cures. (71%)
Kathleen O'Connor, CodeBlueNow! founder and CEO, offered a perspective on what this cross-analysis might mean: "These findings reflect how highly prevention and choice of provider rank among Iowa voters, and that includes the integrative health care community. More common ground exists on a number of issues than either the press or politicians acknowledge."
Taking into account that Iowa is the home state of one of the biggest CAM supporters in Congress (Democratic Senator Tom Harkin), this survey and subsequent cross-analysis paint an interesting picture as to how voters feel about CAM. It will be very interesting to see if this trend plays out, not only in the Iowa caucus, but also across the country.