EBRI Notes

2007 Health Confidence Survey: Rising Health Care Costs Are Changing the Ways Americans Use the Health Care System

Nov 1, 2007 12  pages


10th annual HCS: The 2007 Health Confidence Survey (HCS) represents the 10th wave of an annual survey to assess the attitudes of the American public regarding the U.S. health care system.

Most Americans getting hit with higher health costs: More than 6 in 10 Americans with health insurance coverage (63 percent) report they experienced an increase in the costs they are responsible for paying under their plan in the past year. Of these respondents, higher costs have caused them to increasingly:

     --> Try to take better care of themselves (81 percent in 2007; 71 percent in 2005).

     --> Talk to the doctor more carefully about treatment options and costs (66 percent in 2007; 57 percent in 2005).

     --> Go to the doctor only for more serious conditions or symptoms (64 percent in 2007; 54 per-cent in 2005).

     --> Delay going to the doctor (50 percent in 2007; 40 percent in 2005).

     --> Not fill or skip doses of their prescribed medications (28 percent in 2007; 21 percent in 2005).

Effects on household finances: Those experiencing higher costs are also likely to report that these increases have hurt their household finances. In particular, they indicate that increased health care costs have resulted in a decrease in contributions to retirement (30 percent) and other savings (52 per-cent) and in difficulty paying for basic necessities (29 percent) and other bills (36 percent).

Wellness programs supported in concept: Although employed Americans are positive about wellness programs in general (82 percent), they are less comfortable with specific programs that employers might offer—and are suspicious of employer motivations for offering these types of programs.

Unhappiness with the health care system: Six in 10 rate the health care system as fair (29 percent) or poor (30 percent). Moreover, many feel the health care system needs a complete overhaul (24 per-cent) or requires major changes (47 percent).

Strong support for employer mandate: More than 9 out of 10 (91 percent) of those surveyed support an employer mandate. More than 4 out of 10 (42 percent) believe that all employers, regardless of size, should be included in a mandate requiring them to provide and contribute to health insurance coverage for their workers.