Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Anxiety Over Costs And A Desire For Information And Accountability Top Americans' Health Care Agenda

Across the nation Americans are deeply worried about the affordability of health care and uncertain about how plans for reform will affect them. The anxiety about their rising health costs is palpable, especially in the context of an economic downturn. They believe that better information has the power to help improve the quality and efficiency of health care, and they are clear about the kinds of changes they would like to see and the role government should play.
These are some of the key findings of a new Gallup poll and a report released today by the Council for Excellence in Government in collaboration with the Accenture Institute for Public Service Value and expert guidance from the Institute of Medicine at the National Academies.
The report - The American Public on Health Care: The Missing Perspective - is the culmination of an eight-month initiative that explored the challenges facing health care in America - the problems and trade-offs - through the public's perspective. A national poll was conducted in June 2008, following three town hall meetings and local metropolitan area polls conducted between February and June 2008 (Miami, Detroit and San Francisco). The report releases new national poll results and includes messages for the presidential candidates, government leaders, health care providers, insurers, employers, and the public.
Among the key findings of the project:
There is a palpable anxiety about costs. We learned through our town hall discussions - and confirmed it through local and national opinion research - that there is palpable anxiety about the affordability of health care among Americans from all walks of life, including people who have health coverage and those who do not.
-- More than one in four Americans (26 percent) have put off some sort of medical treatment within the past year because they couldn't pay for it, including 58% of those who are currently uninsured and 20% of those currently with insurance.
-- Cost (51 percent) rather than Quality (30 percent) or Being Able to Get Care (9 percent) dominate health care concerns, with those ages 40 to 64 more concerned about cost (56 percent) than their younger (18-39) or older (65+) counterparts.
-- Nearly two-thirds of Americans (65 percent) rate the affordability of health care in their area or community as Fair or Poor. For those surveyed in the metropolitan areas where the town hall meetings were held, the percentages are even higher.
-- Those without coverage cite cost as the top reason they do not have insurance, with 57 percent saying they cannot afford it. In addition, 14 percent point to unemployment, and 9 percent say their employer does not offer coverage.

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