EBRI Issue Brief
Public Attitudes on the U.S. Health Care System: Findings from the 1999 Health Confidence Survey
- This Issue Brief presents
the findings from the 1999 Health Confidence Survey (HCS), which
focuses on Americans' satisfaction with the health care system
today and their confidence in the system's future. It compares
findings from the 1999 HCS with those from the 1998 HCS, the
first year the survey was conducted. In addition, it includes
recent findings from EBRI's 1999 Health Insurance Preference
- The 1999 HCS finds that, in many
ways, Americans appear happy with their experience of the health
care system. Among those respondents who have received care in
the past two years, 57 percent are extremely or very satisfied
with the quality of the medical care they received; 32 percent
are somewhat satisfied. More than one-half (53 percent) are
extremely or very satisfied with their ability to choose their
doctor, while 23 percent are somewhat satisfied. Close to
one-half are extremely or very satisfied, and 41 percent are
somewhat satisfied, with the care they received in general.
One-half of Americans with health insurance are extremely or very
satisfied with their current health insurance plan. Almost four
in 10 are somewhat satisfied.
- Confidence in many aspects of the
health care system is high: 74 percent of Americans are extremely
or very confident that their pharmacist will fill their
prescription correctly, and 20 percent are somewhat confident.
Almost six in 10 are extremely or very confident, and 33 percent
are somewhat confident, that they will be able to see a health
care specialist if they need one. Just under one-half are
extremely or very confident that they are able to choose their
own doctor or hospital (48 percent confident, 34 percent somewhat
confident); that their doctor's treatment will be based on their
health care needs rather than on cost (46 percent confident, 36
percent somewhat confident); and that doctors are up-to-date on
information about medicine and medical conditions (46 percent
confident, 41 percent somewhat confident).
- The results of the HCS also
reveal several areas of concern. First, there is a great deal of
confusion about what managed care is and whether or not
individuals are enrolled in managed care programs. As a
consequence, many Americans' opinions of managed care are based
on what they have been told by others, rather than on their own
actual experience with managed care.
- A second area of concern is that
several key groups tend to be less satisfied and less confident
about the American health care system. These include individuals
in managed care, those in poorer health, and women.
- While many are satisfied with the
health care they have recently received, Americans do not rate
the overall health care system highly. They are concerned about
escalating health care costs, and they lack confidence in the
future of health care in America.