A new study finds voters agree healthcare is an important issue in choosing a president but are split on which candidate best represents their views.

The poll by TNS Healthcare, New York, finds healthcare concerns are particularly important to voters 65 or older, with 75% saying health issues will play a major role in their presidential choice.

Even among voters aged 18-29, 59% give very high importance to health issues, the market research firm found.

Almost 70% of women and 63% of men say that they will give high importance to healthcare when deciding which candidate to support, TNS reports.

Almost 60% also say they will strongly consider the healthcare positions of potential vice presidents when deciding how to cast their votes.

Among all the issues voters are considering in choosing the next president, healthcare ranks fourth, after economy/jobs, the war in Iraq and energy. Voters ranked healthcare as more important than terrorism, the financial crisis, Social Security, immigration, education, the environment and the trade deficit, TNS found.

Most Americans 40 and older believe that John McCain best represents their views on healthcare and prescription drug issues. Conversely, most voters younger than 40 think that Barack Obama best represents their healthcare positions.

TNS found about 60% of voters over age 75 favor McCain’s healthcare views, and an almost equal percent of voters 18-29 favored Obama’s positions.

Voters with incomes of less than $50,000 a year are more likely to favor Obama’s healthcare views, while those earning higher incomes gave higher marks to McCain.

Americans aged 18-29 or 50-64 consider “making health insurance coverage universal” the most important healthcare message.

TNS based its findings on an Internet survey of 300 Americans aged 18 and older, conducted between July 24 and July 29.