Americans more positive about healthcare

December 1, 2001

Pharmaceutical Representative

Americans appear to be increasingly satisfied with the healthcare they are receiving, the costs they are paying for healthcare, and their managed care plans, according to the 2001 Health Confidence Survey released by the Washington-based Employee Benefit Research Institute. However, as past HCS results have shown, many Americans continue to be pessimistic about the future of the nation's healthcare system, about their future ability to choose the doctors they want and about their ability to afford prescription drugs.

Americans appear to be increasingly satisfied with the healthcare they are receiving, the costs they are paying for healthcare, and their managed care plans, according to the 2001 Health Confidence Survey released by the Washington-based Employee Benefit Research Institute. However, as past HCS results have shown, many Americans continue to be pessimistic about the future of the nation's healthcare system, about their future ability to choose the doctors they want and about their ability to afford prescription drugs.

And while Americans appear to be getting somewhat more knowledgeable about managed healthcare plans, more than half the population is unfamiliar with managed care. Similarly, almost two-thirds of Americans don't know that they will be eligible for Medicare at age 65.

Ray Werntz, president of Consumer Health Education Council, noted that some HCS findings indicate that consumers have serious and deep misunderstandings about the fundamentals of health insurance coverage. In particular, he cited the survey's findings of public confusion over managed care and Medicare eligibility. He also noted that survey results challenge arguments that consumers would be better off without employer involvement in their coverage: "Most Americans get their health coverage through the job, and for the most part believe employment-based coverage to be more reliable than other options," Werntz said.

A wide range of results

Among the other major findings of the report:


•Â Forty-six percent of Americans are extremely or very satisfied with the healthcare they have received in the past two years, up from 39% in 2000.


•Â Only one-third of Americans are extremely or very confident that they will be able to get the treatments they need during the next 10 years (34%), and only 21% are extremely or very confident that they will be able to get necessary treatments once they are eligible for Medicare.


•Â Thirty-eight percent are not very or not at all confident in their ability to afford prescription drugs without financial hardship, or to afford healthcare without financial hardship in the next 10 years.


•Â Two in 10 name healthcare as the most critical issue facing America today (20%), placing healthcare behind the top-rated issue, education (23%), and about even with crime (19%).


•Â One-half of Americans not yet eligible for Medicare are not very or not at all confident that they will be able to afford prescription drugs (51%) or healthcare (49%) without financial hardship once they are eligible for the Medicare program.


•Â More than half of Americans with employment-based health insurance are extremely (11%) or very (41%) satisfied with their current health plans. Only one -tenth say they are not very (7%) or not at all (4%) satisfied.


•Â Forty-seven percent of those with employment-based coverage are extremely or very confident that their employer has selected the best available health plan for its workers. Only 32% are extremely or very confident that they could choose the best available health plan for themselves if their employer stopped offering health insurance.


•Â Sixty-three percent of Americans under age 65 prefer the current employment-based system, in which employers choose the plans and pay many of the health insurance costs, over a system of "defined contribution," in which employees would be given the money their employers currently spend on healthcare to purchase insurance on their own.


•Â Of Americans without health insurance, 32% have delayed seeking healthcare since they lost their coverage, and 22% have decided not to get healthcare they thought they needed.


•Â Only 31% of those without coverage are aware of low-cost or free insurance programs for uninsured adults or children in their state, down from 37% in 2000.

Said EBRI President Dallas Salisbury: "The results of this survey show that Americans are largely satisfied with the healthcare they have received, but they are concerned about the future, especially about being able to choose their doctor and afford prescription drugs." PR

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