Interest in the health care reform debate has remained extremely high throughout the summer and more than nine-in-ten Americans say the issue is important to them. Still, despite the public focus on health care news, two thirds continue to say the issue is hard to understand.
With Congress returning from its August recess, more than half of Americans (56%) say they plan to watch President Obama's prime time speech to lawmakers Wednesday night on health care. More Democrats (72%) say they plan to watch than Republicans (41%) or independents (52%).
According to the latest weekly News Interest Index survey, conducted September 3-6 among 1,005 adults by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, four-in-ten Americans overall say they followed the health care debate very closely last week. Interest has been at about that level or higher since mid-July. About three-in-ten (29%) say they followed the health care debate more closely than any other story last week. Once again, it was the most closely followed story of the week by a wide margin.
More than seven-in-ten (73%) Americans say the health care debate affects them personally, down slightly from the 78% that said the same in mid-July. In the current survey, 26% say it does not affect them personally, up slightly from 21% in July.
Nearly all Americans (93%) view the issue as important, about the same as the 95% that said the issue was important in July. More than seven-in-ten (72%) say the issue is interesting, matching the proportion in the earlier survey, 26% see it as boring.
Read the full report Health Care Proposals Remain Hard to Follow on the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press' Web site.