EBRI Issue Brief

Confidence in Health Care at What Cost? Results from the 1998 Health Confidence Survey

Jul 1, 1998 16  pages


  • This Issue Brief presents the findings from the 1998 Health Confidence Survey. It focuses on Americans' satisfaction with the health care system and their confidence in the system's future.
  • Only 5 percent of Americans give an excellent rating to health care in America today. However, while just over one-half rate health care as excellent, very good, or good, almost one-half (46 percent) rate it as fair or poor.
  • When asked what they consider to be the most critical issue in America today, 15 percent of Americans cite health care.
  • Overall, Americans are not extremely confident about various aspects of health care in the next 10 years. Only 10 percent are extremely confident that they will be able to get the medical treatments they need during this period, while 22 percent are not confident. Americans are even less confident that they will have access to quality health care (26 percent not confident), that they will have enough freedom to choose their health care provider (36 percent not confident), and that they will be able to afford health care without suffering financial hardship (41 percent not confident). The nonelderly population is even less confident about health care once they become eligible for Medicare.
  • Americans are clearly confused about the meaning of managed care and whether they are enrolled in a managed care plan. While 70 percent of those who were determined to be enrolled in a managed care plan label the plan correctly, only 21 percent report that they are currently enrolled in a managed care plan.
  • Most Americans have opinions about managed care. However, only 28 percent of Americans form their opinions about managed care based on their own personal experience. Twenty-three percent base their opinion on what they learn from family and friends, and 29 percent base it on what they hear or see in the media.
  • While few Americans give managed care an excellent rating, few give it a poor rating. Most Americans rate managed care somewhere in the middle.
  • Americans are particularly concerned about health care costs. Over 30 percent are not satisfied with the cost of their health insurance over the last 2 years, and 37 percent are not satisfied with the health care costs that are not covered by their health plan. These numbers compare with higher satisfaction levels concerning choice of physician, quality of care received, treatments received, hospitals used, and benefits covered by health plans.