Consumers: Congress Needs Health-Care Focus

November 23, 2004 ( - A new poll by a health insurance provider finds that the rising cost of health care continues to be a major consumer concern.

A news release said the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) survey found that 40% of the consumers identified the combination of health care and prescription drug costs as priorities for the incoming Congress. For the consumers surveyed, health care ranked slightly behind the number-one domestic priorities of the economy and jobs (41%) and ahead of Social Security and Medicare (29%).

When the new Congress convenes in January 2005, consumers want lawmakers to concentrate on:

  • assuring access to health coverage for every American (68%)
  • making sure people have access to affordable prescription drugs (67%)
  • slowing down the steep rise in healthcare costs (63%)
  • reducing costly fraud and abuse in the healthcare system (56%).

Lawmakers also need to ponder the issue of dealing with the uninsured, consumers asserted. They would offer assistance to individuals who cannot afford health insurance on their own, but do not qualify for government support (52%), provide tax credits to small businesses so they can offer health coverage to their employees (51%), and expand federal health insurance programs so that eligible adults and children are actually enrolled (50%).

Asked to identify the leading factors behind the rise in health care costs, six in 10 consumers said that prescription drugs are the leading factor followed by the cost of hospital care (51%), medical malpractice insurance and lawsuits (48%), and waste, fraud, abuse (44%).

As to what the health insurance industry can do to reduce health care costs and improve the quality of care, 38% of consumers said they would like to see greater collaboration with doctors to improve access to effective drugs at reasonable prices, 31% said they would like to see partnerships with law enforcement to combat fraud and abuse, and a quarter would like to see greater emphasis on care management through work with teams of health care professionals.

The poll was conducted by Public Opinion Strategies and Peter D. Hart Associates with 1,000 consumers on November 4, 6 and 7.

More information is here .