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Poll Reveals Lack of Confidence in Health Care System

A national poll of 1,011 Americans conducted in December, 1996, and commissioned by the National Coalition On Health Care reveals "a disturbing lack of confidence among the majority of Americans with the state and direction of health care and concern about health care quality, cost and coverage." Less than half those polled said they had confidence in the health care system to take care of them. Some specific findings included:

  • 80% polled agree that "there is something seriously wrong with our health care system" and 75% agreed "there are serious problems with the quality of health care."

  • 80% agree that "quality care is often compromised by insurance companies to save money."

  • 40% report they have had a bad experience with medical treatment or care.

  • 75% agree that "cuts in service endanger patients" and 48% agree with the statement that "hospital care is not very good - you're likely to get sicker or more injured by mistakes made by poorly trained and over-worked staff."

  • About 80% agree that "quality health care is almost unaffordable for the average person."

  • 69% agree that the "high cost of medical care is due in part to greed of the insurance companies," while only 10% agree strongly that "insurance companies put the need of customers ahead of profits."

  • 66% agree that "medical care costs have gone up, but quality of care has gone down."

  • Nearly one-third are troubled by what they see as a health care system that will not take care of them and have little confidence in the future.

  • 52% strongly agree that the industry "puts profits ahead of people."

  • About 25% strongly agree that they worry about losing their coverage, and while over 33% feel their coverage is satisfactory, they are troubled by the erosion of quality and inequalities in care, access and coverage for the population at large.

Interestingly, the poll revealed that contrary to the widely publicized view that government should stay out of health care, most Americans feel that "the federal government can play an important role in making health care better" (69%) and "more affordable" (72%). Given a list of possible roles for government, 86% said yes to setting quality standards, 84% said yes to making sure everyone has access to quality medical care regardless of ability to pay, and 84% said yes to stepping in when organizations do not meet standards.

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Last revised January 31, 1998