HEALTH CARE REFORM: Survey Finds Strong Public Support
A new survey by Louis Harris Associates finds that an overwhelming percentage of Americans would vote to support candidates who institute health care reform, USA Today reports. Nearly nine of ten respondents to a telephone survey would vote for a candidate who would support legislation to improve quality of care, provide more choice in medical care and decrease out-of-pocket costs. Although approximately 85% are currently satisfied with their health coverage, "42% don't think their satisfaction will last," and predicted that people will, in five years, be less able to afford medical care (83%), get specialty care (84%), pay for nursing home care (90%) and afford care for a seriously ill child (78%). The study, funded by Baylor College of Medicine in Houston along with Texas Children's Hospital, surveyed 2,000 randomly selected citizens, 300 doctors, 400 corporate benefits experts, 100 congressional staffers and 100 state legislators. Some additional findings:
- Between 75% and 80% of the public "believes that government should provide quality medical coverage to all adults who can't otherwise get insurance," versus 53% of employers, 52% of state legislators and 47% of congressional staffers.
- Approximately 85% of state legislators, 70% of the public, 67% of doctors and 51% of employers "feel that the government should monitor quality of care."
- Seven in ten citizens surveyed believe a public-private partnership will be needed to solve the health care systems' problems, 15% feel the public sector alone must take action and 12% favor the private sector.
- Ninety-five percent of Americans think health care costs will rise over the next five years; 45% think they will "will be much higher."
- Half of those surveyed named quality as the nation's top health priority; half favor universal coverage.
- More than 90% of employers surveyed "plan to cut back on health benefits in the next five years;" seven of ten "will shift people into managed care plans."
- Seventy-one percent of doctors "foresee greater pressure to limit care" over the next five years.
What It Means
Baylor's Tim Garson said, "This doesn't mean fixing the fringes. People say this system needs major change. ... People want a safety net that is not there at present." However, former Health Care Financing Administration head Gail Wilensky noted that the "overall health care system is still in flux." She said, "We're still struggling to define what will give us good quality and access without being exorbitantly expensive." Uwe Reinhardt of Princeton University, noting that Americans support both lower costs and increased quality and choice, "said that Americans are hopelessly naive about medical care, wanting everything but balking at paying what that would cost." Reinhardt said, "One way or another there will be health care rationing in this country. The only real question ... is who will do the rationing -- government bureaucrats or health plan accountants" (Sternberg, 11/23).