Harris Poll Finds HMO Hostility Not From Personal Experience
The recent "sharp increase in public hostility" toward the health insurance and managed care industries is "not based on the personal experiences of health plan members," according to a recent Harris Poll. Most of the people polled "seem to think well of their own health plans," the poll found, with 69% of all insured adults giving their plans an A or B grade. This view has held relatively stable in the past two years, with 72% of insured adults rating their plans an A or B in 1998 and 69% doing so in 1999. Also "virtually unchanged" between 1999 and 2000 is the percentage of respondents who would recommend their plans to a healthy friend (82%) and to a sick friend (69%). However, respondents who would "strongly" recommend their plans to a friend increased over the last year, with recommendations up from 26% to 40% for a healthy friend and from 24% to 36% for a sick friend. The Harris Poll called the "lack of decline" and "apparent improvement" in adults' positive attitudes toward health plans "a surprising and unexpected finding, given the sharp deterioration of public attitudes to managed care and HMOs specifically and health insurance generally."
The poll's authors conclude that the contrast between increased public hostility towards managed care and the steady, or slightly improving, levels of satisfaction with people's own health plans indicates that "public perceptions of managed care are media-driven, or physician-driven, not experience-driven." Authors note that media coverage of the health insurance industry over the past two years has been "overwhelmingly negative," and recent Harris polls have found that many patients have been told by their doctors "how bad managed care is." Finally, 51% of respondents said they preferred a continuation of employer-sponsored insurance (51%) to a government-provided (19%) or worker-purchased (24%) insurance system. This figure is down from 56% in 1999 (Harris Poll release, 1/10).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.