Americans Still Confident About Health Care, But Concerned About Cost, EBRI Reports

from Spencer’s Benefits Reports: When asked to rate the health care system, 28 percent of Americans consider it to be “good,” according to recent research from the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI). The report, 2012 Health Confidence Survey: Americans Remain Confident About Health Care, Concerned About Costs, Following Supreme Court Decision, found that 28 percent rated the health care system as “fair,” and 26 percent rated it as “poor.” Only 12 percent rated it “very good” and 5 percent said it is “excellent.” However, EBRI noted that the percentage of Americans rating the health care system as poor doubled between 1998 and 2004 (rising from 15 percent to 30 percent).

In contrast with the ratings for the health care system overall, Americans’ rating of their own health plans continues to be generally favorable—more than half of those with health insurance are extremely or very satisfied with their current plans, and a third are somewhat satisfied, the report found. In fact, EBRI noted that dissatisfaction with the health care system appears to be focused primarily on cost. Among those experiencing cost increases in their plans in the past year, 31 percent said that they decreased their contributions to retirement plans, and more than half decreased their contributions to other savings as a result.

Confidence about the health care system decreases as Americans look to the future, according to EBRI. While 56 percent of Americans indicated that they are extremely or very confident about their ability to get the treatments they need today, only 31 percent are confident about their ability to get needed treatments during the next ten years, and just 23 percent are confident about this once they are eligible for Medicare. The report also found that 50 percent are confident they have enough choice about who provides their medical care today, but only 29 percent are confident about this aspect of the health care system over the next ten years, and just 19 percent are confident that they will have enough choice once they are eligible for Medicare. Finally, 34 percent of Americans said they are confident they are able to afford health care without financial hardship today, but this percentage decreased to 25 percent when they looked out over the next ten years and to 17 percent when they considered the Medicare years.

The report was published in the September EBRI Notes. For more information, visit http://www.ebri.org/pdf/PR987.24Sept12.HCS.pdf.

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