NCHC Writer
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For Immediate Release: Thursday, January 23, 1997

Marianne McInerney
(202) 637-6839National Survey Highlights
Disturbing Lack of Consumer Confidence
in Health Care System

National Study Identifies Major Concern with Quality of Care

Washington, DC A nationally projectable poll of American households reflects a lack of consumer confidence among the majority of Americans in the quality, cost and accessibility of medical care and the health care system overall. The poll, commissioned by the National Coalition on Health Care, the nation’s largest health care alliance, highlights the most pressing health care concerns that face American families today and reveals deep concern among Americans with the current state of our health care system. (Click here if you would like to read the report on the survey results.)

Conducted December 18-22, the poll illustrates that the majority of Americans have lost confidence in the health care system’s ability to care for people. Eight out of ten respondents believe there is something seriously wrong with our health care system. In addition, six out of ten are not optimistic about the future of health care. In particular, consumers expressed growing anxiety with the quality of medical care and the ability of the average American to receive affordable care. Further, seven out of ten people agree that there are serious problems with the quality of health care and that the quality of care is often compromised to save money.

The cost of medical care is also a significant issue to those polled. Eight out of ten respondents believe quality health care is almost unaffordable for the average person, and seven out of ten respondents feel the cost of health insurance premiums has increased while actual coverage has decreased. In relation to health care costs, consumers feel that initiatives to cut costs have sharply compromised the quality and delivery of medical care.

“The findings of the survey are significant because they indicate the growing concern of middle class America with the state of our health care system and illustrate the system-wide problems including poor quality, costs and decreasing coverage,” said Henry E. Simmons, M.D., President, National Coalition on Health Care. “The results illustrate the complex and interrelated nature of the health care system and point to Americans’ feelings of anxiety regarding their ability to secure and retain necessary, affordable health care.”

Contrary to the widely publicized view that government should not be involved in health care, the survey indicates a bipartisan majority of Americans feel the federal government can play an active role in working with the private sector to improve the quality of health care. While respondents did not express a desire for the federal government to be involved with the direct delivery of health care, seven out of ten people believe that the federal government can play an important role in setting standards of quality care and making health care more affordable.

The survey findings portray consumers as feeling vulnerable, compromised and confused when making decisions about medical care and health coverage. Eight out of ten expressed a strong desire for better information about how to evaluate the quality of medical care.

Despite the growing concern with the direction of our health care system, half of the adult population feels that their individual medical plan provides quality care. In general, people over sixty-five years of age are more satisfied with quality and coverage than are those in their thirties and forties. From an economic vantage point, higher income families, defined as those with annual incomes of $50,000 or above, express greater confidence and satisfaction with their health care than do those with middle and lower annual incomes. Overall, anxieties about the health care system are predominant among middle class Americans.

The National Coalition on Health Care is an alliance of almost 100 organizations, employing or representing approximately 100 million Americans, united in the belief that we can achieve better, more affordable, more equitable health care for all Americans. The Coalition is a nonpartisan organization bringing together large and small business, consumer groups, health care providers, labor unions and the nation’s major religious organizations. In existence since 1990, the National Coalition on Health Care is proud to have as its Honorary Chairmen former Presidents Carter and Ford who serve in conjunction with Co-Chairmen former Republican Governor Robert Ray (IA) and former Democratic Congressman Paul Rogers (FL).

With funding support from its members and grants from the W.K. Kellogg, the Henry J. Kaiser Family and The Robert Wood Johnson foundations, the National Coalition on Health Care today launched a multi-year campaign to educate the public and business on the rapidly changing and increasingly complex health care system.

The “For America’s Health!” campaign will seek to assist the American people to better understand health care and become better informed consumers.

“As the survey illustrates, the majority of Americans feel uninformed about their health care options and, moreover, do not understand the health care system,” continued Dr. Henry E. Simmons. “In launching the ëFor America’s Health!’ campaign, we intend to provide Americans with the information they need to become better consumers and ultimately to participate in a national dialogue that will assist in the development of policy options that can lead to a better, more affordable and more equitable health care system.”

The survey was designed to measure Americans’ attitudes and perceptions regarding the country’s health care system and was conducted by ICR of Media, PA. A nationally representative sample of 1,011 respondents was interviewed by telephone. The margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points.

For more information, contact the Coalition at [email protected] or call (202) 637-6830.

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