The Washington Times - November 16, 2011, 02:27PM

Health care is topped only by jobs as the issue voters care about the most, according to a new survey released Wednesday by PricewaterhouseCoopers Health Industries.

After high unemployment, respondents ranked health care equally with the national deficit as the next most pressing problems, as the cost of health care balloons and challenges to President Obama’s health care law rise more doubts about the industry’s future.


In the poll, 1,000 adult consumers of health care were asked to rank the election’s top three issues. Job creation was named one of the top three by 68 percent of respondents. Health care and the federal budget deficit were each ranked among the top three issues by 52 percent.

“2012 will be a seminal year for the health industries as businesses wade through economic, regulatory and political uncertainty,” said Kelly Barnes, U.S. health industries practice leader for PwC.

The survey also indicated that many Americans put off health care due to financial constraints, with 46 percent of respondents saying they have deferred care at least once in the past year because of how much it cost.

The survey was taken this fall and has an error margin of 3 percentage points.

The PwC poll also supported some recent evidence that, while a majority of Americans continue to oppose Mr. Obama’s Affordable Care Act, there may be more support for individual parts of the law.

More respondents expressed positive notions than negative notions about the new, state-based insurance exchanges mandated by the law. Thirty-seven percent said they’ll likely make it easier to find and purchase a competitive health plan, while 15 percent said they wouldn’t.

But the jury’s still out for many Americans. Nearly half (48 percent) said they were either ambivalent about the exchanges or didn’t know enough about them to weigh in.

The finding came on the heels of a CNN poll released Monday showing 52 percent support for the individual mandate, up 8 percents from June. Opposition to the mandate sunk from 54 percent down to 47 percent during that time frame.