If you follow the media, you’ll see that health care has become a political issue. In the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and elsewhere, candidates lay down their plans for medicine.
As much as ten percent of political speeches are devoted to health funding, and to health infrastructure, whether it be “Obamacare” or the NHS. But does the electorate care?
Well, according to an Ipsos Mori poll, while health care is the fifth biggest worry worldwide, it is number one in Britain.
This seems to be confirmed by a poll by Liverpool Victoria Insurance, which found that for 42% of young Brits (out of a sample of 2000), personal health was their biggest worry.
But was it? Is health care the same thing as personal health? Is health policy the same thing as health care?
Previous polls by Ipsos Mori found that doctors were the most trusted profession in Britain, and politicians the least. However, we seem to trust doctors less when they run for office. According to the BMJ, 19 doctors ran for parliament under the banner of a major political party in 2015. Only four were elected. Doctors were nearly twice as likely to win a seat in the first half of the 20th century.
A better poll, perhaps, is the one created by Chapman University on America’s top fears. It separates health worries into domains such as economic, government, personal fears, and illness and death. Being worried about your health (or the health of a loved one) is not the same as being worried about being able to afford a doctor, and neither are necessarily the same thing as being worried about health policy. We could worry how a political policy will affect the country, even if we’re not sure it will affect us personally. The survey tries to reflect that.
The Chapman survey has its weaknesses. Like most large scale surveys, it uses closed questions, meaning people only reveal those fears that the surveyor thought up ahead of time. Perhaps people are really worried about something the surveyor did not predict, or chose not to ask. But, it’s still interesting.
While only 7.8 percent of those surveyed had a fear of clowns, 14.9 admitted to a fear of germs. More people were afraid of spiders than illegal immigration. And, Obamacare was only the tenth biggest worry, with the largest by far being corrupt government officials.
With all the financial concerns stated, one wonders if people are more afraid of getting ill, or of the economic costs associated with illness.
One wishes we could find such a detailed survey for the UK.
But, in any case, which health concerns worry us the most? According to “pharmacy to you“, which analysed data from web searches, it was diarrhea.
Well, perhaps diarrhea is the most embarrassing health worry. Maybe they’re too embarrassed to even ask their doctors about diarrhea (which is why they resort to web searches.)
In my own experience, many more Britons publicly share information about dementia, cancer, mental health and AIDS.