It has been more than a year – 18 months and 11 days to be exact – since the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act (HCERA) of 2010 were passed. And still, after all this time, recent surveys show Americans are not extremely well versed on the new laws nor satisfied with current healthcare issues. It seems nothing has changed.
Amendments to the Acts and future application deadlines can all be attributed to the lack of knowledge regarding health care reform. Moreover, there are numerous concerns which polls are now returning regard confidence, behaviors and reform in the eyes of the American public.
The Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) has been conducting annual health confidence surveys (HCS) on healthcare since 1998. Highlights of this year’s survey provide:
1) Dissatisfaction with the American health care system remains widespread. 56% of respondents rated the system as poor or fair. The percentage of Americans which rated the system as poor, doubled between1998 and 2004.
2) 60% of Americans are very satisfied with their own current health insurance coverage; 29% are somewhat satisfied.
3) 57% are very confident that their employment-based health coverage will continue to be offered by their or their spouse’s, employer or union. Confidence in this belief was 68% in 2000.
4) Just 18% of people are extremely satisfied with the cost of their health insurance.
5) Only 12% are extremely confident they are able to afford health care without financial hardship.
What human behaviors are impacting healthcare? Last September, the Thomas Reuters-NPR Health Poll released their query of 3,000 Americans on the subject of human behavior and healthcare.
Smoking was, of course, the top named impacting behavior, however, by less than a 1% difference, obesity was ranked second. Stress, by less than a 4% difference, was rated third. Taking the fourth and fifth top cited answers were alcohol use at 11.2% and workplace safety at 7.5%.
On the subject of cost, 84.8% of those polled believe that people who exercise, eat healthy and don’t smoke should receive a discount on their health insurance premiums. 30% say overweight people should have to pay more for health insurance. 11.3% went as far to say it is acceptable to deny employment based upon obesity.
The EBRI survey reports that confidence regarding today’s health care system has neither fallen nor increased as a result of the passage of health reform.
62% of Americans are also not familiar with a “key aspect of the law”. The unfamiliarity refers to legislation requiring that each state must set up a health care “exchange” by 2014, where health benefits can be shopped at competitive rates. This mandate is part of the Act’s objective to broaden health insurance coverage. The proposed goal is purposed to create an alternative coverage solution for the remaining minority of the American population without employment-based benefits.
Changes to the Act since its March 2010 inception have altered the original passage, which further complicates American awareness. As of today, it is unknown whether any of the current court challenges filed by States, business and other parties regarding the constitutionality of certain mandates within the law will further modify how health care reform unfolds.
The EBRI survey also found that health care is not the issue that the majority of Americans consider to be most pressing in America today:
32% of those polled say the economy is the most critical issue at hand.
14% say the federal budget deficit is.
14% cite unemployment as most important.
12% believe healthcare is.
11% think education is top priority.
Thanks for reading,
Kurt Rusch CLU, ChFC