Poll: Consumers Want Action on Healthcare Costs
Addressing the rising cost of healthcare should be one of the top items on the domestic agenda for the new Congress, according to a national poll from the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.
In the poll, 40% of the consumers identified the combination of healthcare and prescription drug costs as issues that should be priorities for the incoming Congress. Healthcare ranked slightly behind the #1 domestic priorities -- jobs and the economy -- and ahead of Social Security and Medicare (29%).
"It is crystal clear from this poll that the rising cost of healthcare is one of the greatest concerns facing American consumers today," said Blue Cross President Scott P. Serota. "The poll provides an excellent blueprint for not only the new Congress, but for all of us in the healthcare industry as we work together to identify real and meaningful solutions to keep quality health care affordable."
"That future begins with incentives that reward hospitals and doctors for the quality of care they deliver rather than the number of procedures they perform," he said. "Building on quality, we would provide the better information and tools, which means sharing and following best medical practices, and empowering consumers with information to make more informed healthcare decisions for themselves and their families."
Conducted by Bill McInturff of Public Opinion Strategies and Geoffrey Garin of Peter D. Hart Associates, the poll is the first comprehensive survey gauging consumer views on health care since the presidential election on November 2. The poll was conducted with 1,000 consumers on November 4, 6 and 7.
When asked to identify the leading factors behind the rise in healthcare costs, 60% of the consumers said that prescription drugs are the leading factor followed by the cost of hospital care (51%), medical malpractice insurance and lawsuits (48%), and waste, fraud, abuse (44%).
the poll, consumers were asked to select the top healthcare issues
the new Congress should address beginning in January 2005. The top
four areas were:
? assuring access to health coverage for every American (68%);
? making sure people have access to affordable prescription drugs (67%);
? slowing down the steep rise in healthcare costs(63%), and
? reducing costly fraud and abuse in the healthcare system (56%).
Consumers also would like Congress to address issues of the uninsured. They would offer assistance to individuals who cannot afford health insurance on their own, but do not qualify for government support (52%), provide tax credits to small businesses so they can offer health coverage to their employees (51%), and expand federal health insurance programs so that eligible adults and children are actually enrolled (50%).
As to what the health insurance industry can do to reduce health care costs and improve the quality of care, 38% of consumers said they would like to see greater collaboration with doctors to improve access to effective drugs at reasonable prices, 31% said they would like to see partnerships with law enforcement to combat fraud and abuse, and 24% would like to see greater emphasis on care management through work with teams of healthcare professionals.
Doctors Demand Malpractice Relief in 2nd Poll
In a companion poll of 500 doctors conducted by Cooper Research on November 3-4, 71% of physicians identified medical malpractice insurance and lawsuits as the leading factor driving up the cost of healthcare followed by the aging population (42%) and the cost of prescription drugs (42%), and the poor health habits of Americans (37%).
Overwhelmingly, 80% of the physicians believe medical malpractice reform should be the top healthcare priority of the Congress, followed by greater access to healthcare coverage and finding ways for Americans to lead healthier lifestyles (both at 43%).
"These polls show the healthcare challenges we face as a country. However, I am confident that through the collective efforts of the private and public sectors we can keep healthcare affordable by driving consistent quality of care, empowering consumers, increasing access to affordable prescription drugs, and fighting waste, fraud and abuse," said Serota.
(Article Courtesy of ConsumerAffairs.com)
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