Americans Like Limits on Patients' Rights

August 31, 2001 ( - While Americans favor a patients' bill of rights, that support doesn't necessarily include an unlimited right to sue, according to a new survey.

The survey, released earlier this week by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health, found that public support for a patients’ bill of rights increases noticeably when there are limits on the lawsuits. In fact, the study found that 80% of respondents prefer a patients’ bill of rights with some limits, to just 16% that favored a no limit alternative.

But the real issue on people’s minds seems to be affordability, cited as the top health care concern by 30% of survey respondents. Affordability of drugs for seniors was cited by 15%, while:

  • 13% noted keeping Medicare financially secure
  • 13% wanted to expand health care coverage
  • 13% thought helping families with long term health care costs for elderly or disabled family members was most critical.

Only 7% thought that “protecting patients’ rights in HMOs and managed health care plans’ was a top priority.

Roughly 60% expect health insurance premiums to rise if a patients’ bill of rights were enacted, while a third say they will go up “a lot.” Nearly half (42%) think employers would be more likely to stop offering health insurance for their workers, but a slightly larger 46% don’t expect it to have an impact on availability.