Thursday, August 09, 2007

Results from Consumer Reports health care survey

Consumer Reports recently conducted a survey of the health care experiences of 2,905 U.S. residents between the ages of 18 to 64, focusing on their experiences over the past 12 months. The respondents were not covered by Medicare or Medicaid. Here's a summary of their findings [emphasis added]:
Our findings indicate that there are three tiers of health care consumers in the United States: the adequately-insured, who account for 59% of all Americans in the population sampled; the underinsured, who represent 24% of all Americans sampled; and the uninsured, who comprise 16% of our sample. [...]

Our principal finding is that the underinsured represent a large segment of the American population between the ages of 18 to 64: 29% of all persons with health plans, and 24% of the population as a whole. Although the travails of the uninsured have been widely-documented, our observation is that the uninsured represent only one segment of those lacking adequate health insurance. When we add together the uninsured (16%) with the underinsured (24%), we find two-fifths of a nation burdened by health care jitters.

Here is a sample of the experiences of the underinsured in the past 12 months:

56% postponed needed medical care because of costs

33% had to dig deep into their savings to pay medical expenses

34% of those 50+ said decisions about retirement were adversely affected by health care expenses

21% made job-related decisions based _mainly _on health care needs.

27% had outstanding medical debts still owed doctors or hospitals, and 17% were carrying medical debts of $5,000 +

38% postponed home or car maintenance or repairs due to medical expenses

71% indicated they were dissatisfied with their household’s share of out-of-pocket medical expenses

37% said they were at all prepared to financially handle unexpected major medical expenses they might face in the next 12 months.
No wonder polls indicate health care is the number one domestic issue among voters. Two-fifths (40%) of the country is "burdened by health care jitters!" It's also pretty obvious that tax deductions and/or credits won't do much to help solve the problem. Whether underinsured or uninsured, people just don't have the money to pay for good medical care. This is just one more reason to push for national health insurance.

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