U.S. consumers' health care concerns

USA Today on Monday published three articles addressing U.S. consumers' health care concerns as part of a week-long series titled "Prescription for Change," which examines possible improvements to the U.S. health care system. Summaries appear below.

  • "Consumer Unease With U.S. Health Care Grows": Eighty percent of U.S. adults are dissatisfied with the total amount of money the nation spends on health care -- estimated to be about $2.2 trillion this year, according to a survey by ABC News, the Kaiser Family Foundation and USA Today. The survey, which was conducted last month, is based on a sample of 1,201 adults and has a margin of error of three percentage points. According to the survey, 44% of adults said they were satisfied with the quality of health care in the U.S. and 89% said they were satisfied with the quality of their own health care. The survey found that 28% of adults believe the cost of new drugs, treatments and technology is among the largest factors contributing to high health costs and 12% cited increases in the number of people receiving better medical care. Meanwhile, half of the adults said costs are high because of pharmaceutical and insurance companies, 37% blamed the number of medical malpractice lawsuits and 36% said high cost were caused by doctors and hospitals making too much moneys. Kaiser Family Foundation President and CEO Drew Altman said, "The current era of shifting costs to workers has hurt working people but has not had much impact on health care costs." Altman added, "But the American people have little appetite for slowing the spread of new medical technology, which is the biggest driver behind rising health care costs." The survey found that 79% of adults support health insurance mandates on businesses for full-time workers, and almost two-thirds said employers should offer health care benefits to part-time workers as well. About two-thirds said they support a nationwide health insurance mandate with tax credits for low-income people. The survey also found that 82% of adults support expanding existing government health programs like Medicaid and SCHIP (Appleby [1], USA Today, 10/16).
  • The survey is available online.
  • "In Medicine, Evidence Can Be Confusing": Critics and proponents of evidence-based medicine agree that "[k]eeping up with the latest evidence is virtually impossible," according to USA Today. Supporters of evidence-based medicine say information from randomized controlled trials has "saved countless lives," while critics say it "devalues the doctor's experience and patient's preference," USA Today reports. However, even "when evidence is clear, doctors and hospitals can be slow to change their practices," according to USA Today (Rubin, USA Today, 10/16).
  • "Universal Care Appeals to U.S.A.": Fifty-six percent of adults said they would prefer a universal health care system to the current U.S. health care system, according to the ABC News/Kaiser Family Foundation/USA Today survey. However, the survey found that 76% of adults said they would oppose universal coverage if some medical treatments would no longer be covered. However, the survey found that support drops to 18% if some medical treatments would no longer be covered, 28% if universal coverage limits their choice of doctors and 35% if it meant they would pay higher taxes or health insurance premiums (Appleby [2], USA Today, 10/16).

Broadcast Coverage

ABC News' "World News Tonight" on Sunday in the first segment of its week-long "Prescription for Change" series examined some shortcomings in the U.S. health care system. The segment includes findings from the ABC News/Kaiser Family Foundation/USA Today poll and comments from Heather Jeffries, mother of an infant who died after receiving an incorrect dosage of the blood thinner heparin; former Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber (D); Ruth Schulze, a New Jersey physician who has stopped delivering infants because of the high cost of medical malpractice insurance; and Medicare beneficiaries (Bourin/Harris, "World News Tonight," ABC News, 10/15).

The complete transcript of the segment is available online.

Video of the segment is available online.

Expanded ABC News coverage of the series - including two health business blogs and video reports on retail health clinics, challenges facing emergency departments nationwide, health care rationing, quality scorecards for health care and electronic medical records -- is available online.


Kaisernetwork.orgThis article is republished with kind permission from our friends at the The Kaiser Family Foundation. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery of in-depth coverage of health policy developments, debates and discussions. The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for Kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Copyright 2006 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.

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