Houston Matters

Survey: Consumers And Congress Disagree On The Definition Of Affordable Healthcare

A new survey examines the opinions of doctors and consumers regarding the cost of healthcare and how to reduce it.

 

stethoscope on calculator isolated on white background healthcare and finance concepts

Consumers value health insurance but often have to make sacrifices to afford it. Consumers and lawmakers disagree about what exactly “affordable” healthcare means. And doctors favor a new model for how they’re paid.

Those are just a few of the takeaways from a new survey the Texas Medical Center’s Health Policy Institute released today (Sept. 19, 2017). The purpose was to better understand people’s opinions on health insurance and how to bring down the cost of healthcare. Over the summer, they talked to more than 9,000 consumers in 15 different states and some 450 physicians around the country.

Michael Hagerty talks with the institute’s Dr. Tim Garson about the survey’s findings.

KEY FINDINGS:

  • 98 percent of consumers surveyed consider health insurance important to them and their families.
  • 49 percent of consumers surveyed said they must cut other expenses in order to pay for health care.
  • Congress and consumers disagree on the definition of “affordable.”
    Most respondents say they can only afford spending about 2 percent of their income on health care. Why is this figure significant? The Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate requires people to obtain health insurance or pay a penalty. Those who lack access to “affordable” coverage are exempt from that penalty. But under ACA, coverage is considered “affordable” if it doesn’t exceed 8.2 percent of income. This suggests the public’s view of what’s affordable is vastly different from lawmakers’ view of affordability.
  • Who do doctors blame for the high cost of healthcare?
    47 percent of physicians surveyed blamed insurance companies for rising health care costs,
    19 percent blamed drug and device manufacturers
  • Who do consumers blame for the high cost of healthcare?
    28 percent of consumers blame insurance companies
    30 percent of consumers blamed drug and device manufacturers
  • Paying doctors salaries, instead of fee-for-service, could reduce healthcare costs
    It is estimated that nearly $200 billion per year is spent on over treatment, or care that can’t possibly help patients. If more doctors were paid with salaries, instead of paid based on the volume of care they provide, research suggests they’d order fewer tests and procedures, reducing costs. The survey indicates doctors would actually support this solution, with 69 percent of physicians preferring to be compensated via a straight salary or a salary with relatively small incentives.

Source: The Nation’s Pulse: The Texas Medical Center’s Consumer & Physician Survey

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Michael Hagerty

Michael Hagerty

Senior Producer, Houston Matters

Michael Hagerty is the Senior Producer for Houston Matters. He has a degree in journalism from Abilene Christian University and has served as news director for NPR and PBS stations around Texas and The West, including: KUNR-FM in Reno, Nev.; KNPB-TV in Reno, Nev.; and KWBU-TV/FM in Waco, Texas. He...

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