Poll: Americans paying more for less health care

By:  Consumer Reports

As health reform slowly churns its way through the halls of Congress, our latest survey reveals that most Americans continue to face health-care woes. More than half of consumers report rapidly rising health-care costs, and over a quarter said they've endured recent cuts in coverage, according to the latest national poll of 1,002 adults from Consumer Reports National Research Center. And such troubles have forced many Americans into difficult choices, such as putting off a doctor's visit or a medical procedure, or forgoing prescription drugs.

Our poll suggests it's not just the uninsured or those with junk insurance who worry about health costs. Most Americans, 73 percent, are concerned that they may face a major financial loss due to an illness or accident, that needed services will be denied by a health insurance company, and that they won't be able to afford health coverage in the future.

Overall, 28 percent of Americans reported loss of coverage or benefit reductions, and cuts were seen across all income levels. And given the current economy, such cuts could have a real impact on the health of Americans. In a previous survey we found that trying to save on prescription drugs can lead to risky behaviors. This poll bore that out-about half of Americans-51 percent-reported that they had to make one or more difficult medical decision due to costs in the last year, including:

  • Putting off a doctor's visit (28 percent)
  • Inability to pay for medical bills or medications (25 percent)
  • Putting off a medical procedure (22 percent)
  • Declining a medical test (20 percent)
  • Not filling a prescription (20 percent)
  • Using expired medications (15 percent)
  • Skipping a scheduled dose (15 percent)
  • Splitting pills (13 percent)
  • Or sharing a prescription with someone else (9 percent)

These findings underscore the importance of comprehensive health care reform. Consumers Union has called for reform that makes insurance simple, covers everyone, improves information on health-care quality, helps employers offer better plans, rewards quality care, lets doctors be doctors, and provides freedom to choose your plan.