A painful, pre-existing condition -- obsession over the cost of medical care and health insurance -- makes the latest announcements of rising insurance rates a potent political issue, according to survey takers who polled patients throughout New York state this year.
The 2016 Empire State Healthcare Survey, conducted by a collaborative group of researchers at the Cornell University Institute for Healthy Futures, polled 800 New Yorkers of all background and political inclinations between February and April 2016. Overall, two-thirds thought the cost of care (39 percent of respondents) and the American health insurance system and policy (27 percent) were the "most important problems in U.S. healthcare."
"If that's what worried people before the latest round of insurance premium increases for 2017, it's not surprising that Obamacare costs have so much political currency," said Rohit Verma, executive director of the Cornell Institute for Healthy Futures and one of three authors of the report.
Most people aren't worried about the quality of American healthcare (more than 70 percent gave a positive rating to their most recent hospital visit experience, but the research shows people are blaming the financial burden of healthcare on two causes hospital and doctor bills, and the regulatory policies that govern health insurance in this country.
Healthcare costs and policy aside, other so-called problems weren't keeping many patients up at night. Access to healthcare worried only 6 percent, and about the same number expressed concern over the efficiency of healthcare delivery. A contented 4 percent saw "no problem" at all.
The survey analyzed responses based on political affiliation, with 77 percent of self-identified Republicans or Conservatives saying they were somewhat satisfied or very satisfied with their latest hospital experience. Younger patients were a little harder to please; only 54 percent of under-30s reported a positive experience, but 85 percent of patients age 65 and above did.
As for bedside manners, 66 percent of patients were not put off by doctors using laptops, smartphones or tablets during their visits. Self-identified Liberals were more accepting (75 percent) of computerized healthcare, compared to Conservatives (61 percent).
Stereotypes were further defied when the survey asked about healthcare delivery in the future. Suppose, for instance, you could get help with minor problems like the flu or a rash, via smart phone -- instead of going in person to a clinic? Compared with the other age groups, the youngest (below 30) has the lowest level of interest in using their smart phone at home to receive outpatient care and the highest level of preference in going to a hospital clinic, survey-takers reported. An outpatient clinic is still the most preferred option for the youngest age group.
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