Majorities of the public say the United States should invest more money in Zika research and in preventing its spread in this country, the latest Kaiser Health Tracking Poll finds. More than seven in 10 people, including majorities of Democrats, Republicans, and independents, say they support investing in Zika research and to prevent its spread.
About two thirds of the public also support helping women in Zika-affected areas in the U.S. with reproductive health choices and services, which can be important because the virus can be sexually transmitted and has been linked to severe birth defects in babies born to infected mothers. This includes majorities of Democrats and independents, and nearly half of Republicans.
The poll finds most Americans (85%) have read or heard about the Zika virus. Of this group, relatively few (13%) say that the Zika virus poses a major threat to them personally, while three in four (74%) say the Zika virus poses a major threat to pregnant women.
These perceptions may reflect the public’s uneven awareness about the virus. While about six in 10 (59%) correctly say that the Zika virus is associated with birth defects in babies born to infected mothers, far fewer (13%) know the virus is associated with muscle weakening and paralysis in adults, and only half are aware the virus can be sexually transmitted.
With the virus already widespread in Latin America and the Caribbean, including Rio where the 2016 Summer Olympics will be held, the survey finds that one third of the public (32%) says they would be comfortable traveling to Zika-infected areas outside the U.S.
On the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Democrats moved towards more positive views as the presidential primary season ended, with 71 percent of Democrats reporting a favorable view in June compared to 63 percent in April, and a smaller share holding unfavorable views (16% vs. 25%). As a result, the public this month is almost evenly divided in its overall view of the law, with 44 percent holding unfavorable views and 42 percent holding favorable ones
The public is also split on what they want Congress to do next with the law. About as many people say they want the entire law repealed (33%) or scaled back (11%) as say they want the law expanded (28%) or implemented as is (17%). There are huge partisan divisions on this question, with two thirds of Republicans (66%) wanting to repeal the law entirely, and nearly half of Democrats wanting to expand it (48%).
Those who favor repeal are divided about whether it should be replaced with a Republican-sponsored alternative. This is also true for Republicans, with about three in 10 Republicans (29%) saying that they would like to see the law repealed and then replaced with a Republican alternative, and one quarter saying they would like to see it repealed and not replaced (25%).
The poll also explores how people experience health care costs, including premiums, deductibles, and drug costs.
Large majorities of the public say they have heard or read news about the rising costs of health insurance premiums. However, while those reports have mostly been about marketplace premiums, people are uncertain about who and which plans are affected. Half (52%) say the reports have been about all insurance plans, 16 percent say the reports have been about just employer-sponsored plans, and one in ten (10%) say the news has only been about ACA marketplace plans.
Designed and analyzed by public opinion researchers at the Kaiser Family Foundation, the poll was conducted from June 15-21 among a nationally representative random digit dial telephone sample of 1,201 adults. Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish by landline (420) and cell phone (781). The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points for the full sample. For results based on subgroups, the margin of sampling error may be higher.