A comprehensive survey and accompanying news reports by Minnesota Public Radio News and its sister organization, American Public Media Research Lab, provide a fascinating look into the perceptions of Minnesotans on a range of issues, including health care. The survey interviewed 1,654 Minnesota residents in late August and early September.

The survey found that Minnesotans continue to be optimistic. By an 82-15 percent margin, residents were more hopeful than fearful about the future. Although health care is cited as one area that could be improved, it is grouped with many other issues, including taxes, infrastructure, education and the economy. The top issue cited for improvement was “politics.”

The MPR/APM study provides other insights into attitudes toward health care – a timely topic given the political debate and divisions that continue to swirl around the topic.

Two-thirds of Minnesotans – 67 percent – think the state generally is on the right track when it comes to having good health care. Only 26 percent believe the state is on the wrong track. The experience of providers, broad access to health care and the quality of the system are among the reasons cited by survey respondents for their positive views.

The results generally square with findings of a 2014 statewide survey conducted by Minnesota HealthBasics. Although the two surveys don’t provide an apples-to-apples comparison (different questions, different methodologies, etc.), the data are interesting to compare. For example, in the HealthBasics survey, more than eight of 10 Minnesotans said the health care they and other state residents receive from doctors, clinics, hospitals and other health providers is excellent or good.

The HealthBasics survey found that Minnesotans were worried about the cost of health care, but had no single clear solution. Among the proposals that survey respondents thought would be most effective were having unbiased and easy-to-use information, including consumer ratings of health care providers and price information that would allow people to more effectively compare costs.

According to the MPR/APM survey, majorities of Minnesotans believe the state generally is on the right track when it comes to providing care for those facing mental health issues (56 percent – 32 percent) and in caring for older adults (69 percent-20 percent).

The survey also found high levels of trust the medical system in Minnesota. Respondents to the MPR/APM survey said they trust the medical system to always do what is right 24 percent of the time; 48 percent said they trust the system to do what is right most of the time. That compares favorably with trust in police and public education and slightly ahead of trust in organized religion. It is well ahead of Minnesotans’ trust in the news media, big business and state government, according to the survey.

The topline survey findings from MPR and APM Research Lab are available here.

News reports on the survey’s findings can be found at www.MPR.org.