- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The nation’s health worries have taken a distinct turn. It’s not fear of cancer, heart disease or AIDS that alarms Americans the most. It’s health care.

Concerns about the access and cost of health care far outweigh the worrisome challenges posed by obesity, cancer, heart disease, AIDS and diabetes, according to a Gallup Poll released Monday.

Indeed, a majority of the respondents - 55 percent - said the availability and financial challenges of the entire system presented “the most urgent health problem” facing the U.S.

Just 2 percent cited diabetes, AIDS and heart disease, while 11 percent cited cancer and 12 percent obesity.

Twenty years ago, the trend was in reverse. In a similar Gallup survey, 68 percent of the respondents said AIDS was the nation’s biggest health woe while 1 percent cited the cost.

“Many people feel that illness is ultimately out of our control. But everyone believes that health insurance coverage and availability of good doctors, hospitals and caregivers is a reasonable expectation,” said Boston University.

“Health care has never saved a single life. That’s more of a theological question. What health care is supposed to do is delay death, overcome disability and pain, and provide medical security - confidence you will get competent and timely care when you need it without having to worry about the bill when you’re sick or losing your insurance. Ever,” Mr. Sager said.

“We spend enough already to ensure medical security. But half is simply wasted. We should identify and squeeze out the fat, capture it and recycle it as clinical bone and muscle,” he added.

In 2007, total national health care expenditures topped $2.3 trillion, or 16 percent of the gross domestic product. That total is expected to rise 6.9 percent by year’s end, according to the National Coalition on Health Care.

The national phobia about health care has been exacerbated by a spectrum of related woes, from the ongoing economic crisis to the specter of unemployment and loss of health insurance. Currently, 47 million people are uninsured, according to the McKinsey and Co., an industry analyst.

“Americans’ perceptions of the most urgent health problem facing the Jeffrey Jones.

The Gallup survey of 1,000 adults, conducted Nov. 11 to 13 with a margin of error of three percentage points, showed differences between political leanings and between the sexes.

For example, a quarter of conservatives, compared with 40 percent of liberals, cited access to care as the biggest health problem. More men than women were worried about weight, with 17 percent citing obesity as our biggest problem, compared with 8 percent of women.

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