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The Kaiser Health Policy News Index is designed to help journalists and policymakers understand which health policy-related news stories Americans are paying attention to, and what the public understands about health policy issues covered in the news. According to this month’s index, the public remains captivated by news coverage of the Ebola virus, with nearly eight in ten Americans saying they “very” or “fairly” closely followed the story in the United States and abroad. Fewer, but still substantial shares, report following the conflicts in Iraq and Syria (71 percent) and the results of the midterm elections (64 percent). The public paid much less attention to other non-health policy news stories this month; just over a third (36 percent) say they closely followed the crash of a Virgin Galactic commercial aircraft and 27 percent say they closely followed the Major League Baseball World Series. And a quarter or fewer report following health policy stories about preparations for the health care law’s second open enrollment period (25 percent) and a settlement requiring the nursing home chain Extendicare to pay $38 million after providing substandard care to residents (17 percent).

Figure 1

Figure 1

This month, news coverage of Ebola cases in the United States and in West Africa continue to top this list of stories followed “very” or “fairly” closely by the public, ranking among the most closely followed stories for the past three consecutive months. Even after multiple cases of Ebola were diagnosed in the United States, the public is equally attentive to news about Ebola in West Africa as it is to coverage about the U.S.

In November, more Americans report following news of the Ebola outbreak than a few months ago. In the August-September Health Policy News Index, about six in ten Americans (62 percent) reported following the story closely. Since then, the share has increased substantially, to nearly eight in ten Americans (78 percent), closely following news of the outbreak abroad. Attention to news of Ebola in the U.S. has also increased, from about seven in ten (69 percent) in October to about eight in ten (79 percent) in November.

Figure 2

Figure 2

This month, news coverage of Ebola cases in the United States and in West Africa continue to top this list of stories followed “very” or “fairly” closely by the public, ranking among the most closely followed stories for the past three consecutive months. Even after multiple cases of Ebola were diagnosed in the United States, the public is equally attentive to news about Ebola in West Africa as it is to coverage about the U.S.

In November, more Americans report following news of the Ebola outbreak than a few months ago. In the August-September Health Policy News Index, about six in ten Americans (62 percent) reported following the story closely. Since then, the share has increased substantially, to nearly eight in ten Americans (78 percent), closely following news of the outbreak abroad. Attention to news of Ebola in the U.S. has also increased, from about seven in ten (69 percent) in October to about eight in ten (79 percent) in November.

NOTE: These questions were asked as part of the November 2014 Kaiser Health Tracking Poll. For more results from that survey, including methods, see: Kaiser Health Tracking Poll: November 2014.

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.