MANAGED CARE REFORM: 60% Favor Tougher Regulation
As the debate rages over managed care reform in Washington, consumers are solidly behind efforts to regulate HMOs and other managed care programs. But according to data from a Washington Post/ABC News poll, that support has a condition: cost. Sixty percent of 1,511 adults surveyed say they support tougher government regulation of HMOs, but that number drops to only 37% if reforms would raise the cost of health care. Among HMO enrollees, 61% said they favored stricter guidelines for managed care, and 41% favored toughening standards if it raised costs. Despite the anti-HMO rhetoric that permeates discussion of the issue, 80% of people enrolled in HMOs say they are satisfied with the quality of their health care, down from 88% who said the same last August. In comparison, 87% of enrollees in traditional fee-for-service plans said they were satisfied with their quality of care, down from 92% last year. But that satisfaction with HMOs is not necessarily boosting managed care's image nationwide. Only 45% of HMO enrollees say they have a favorable opinion of the plans, and only 30% of all consumers have a good image of HMOs. HMOs suffer the worst image problems in the eyes of those who are not even members -- 61% of enrollees in traditional health plans have an unfavorable view of HMOs and 53% think HMOs treat patients unfairly. When asked if they had been denied coverage for treatment they thought should have been covered under their plan, 29% of HMO enrollees and 26% of traditional plan enrollees say they had. While that finding signals little difference between HMOs and traditional plans, the number of HMO enrollees who say they have been denied coverage was a sharp increase from 18% who said the same last year. The findings on HMO reform are part of a poll conducted July 9-12 by Radnor, PA-based Chilton Research Services. The results have a margin of error of plus/minus three percentage points (Post/ABC News poll, 7/15). Click here to read an analysis of the poll's results from ABC News polling analyst Gary Langer.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.