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Health coverage debate fuels affordability concerns over chronic disease care


LOS ANGELES — A new survey from the national non-profit Transamerica Center for Health Studies shows that 81% of Americans are aware of the healthcare debates in Washington, and of those, 92% are concerned about those changes and 59%  are very or extremely concerned.

The three biggest fears among Americans include:

  1. Loss of coverage for those with pre-existing conditions (42%);

  2. Reduction in Medicare coverage for seniors (31%); and

  3. No employer mandate to offer healthcare coverage (30%).

The survey also found that more than two-thirds (67%) of Americans reported having at least one chronic health condition, and 19% cited managing a chronic illness/condition (e.g., heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure) as one of their top two most important health-related priorities right now.

"With such high rates of chronic health conditions, it is not surprising that so many Americans are concerned about losing coverage due to their pre-existing conditions," stated Hector De La Torre, executive director of TCHS. "This concern is reflected by a substantial 56% of Americans who think health insurance should cover people with pre-existing conditions. This strong consensus is counter to the ongoing split over the Affordable Care Act, with 43% having a positive view and 32% having a negative view of the ACA (and 26% neutral on the ACA compared to 51% in 2016)."

When asked about the most important characteristics of the healthcare system, the most common response was "being able to pay for the care I need" (36%). Consistent with previous years, affordability remains a top concern, with nearly one in five (19%) saying they are currently not able to afford routine healthcare expenses (i.e., health insurance co-pays, deductibles, out-of-pocket expenses, etc.). Only about one in 10 Americans (13%) say their access to affordable healthcare coverage has increased in the past one to two years.

Interestingly, the survey found variations in increased access to affordable coverage among racial and generational segments, with Latino adults (19%) more likely than White/Caucasian (12%), Black/African American (11%), and Asian/Pacific Islander (10%) adults to say access to affordable coverage has increased. In addition, millennials (18%) are more likely than generation X (10%) and baby boomers (6%) to say access to affordable coverage has increased.

"Year after year, we have found that affordability is top of mind for Americans and yet few say they are currently saving for healthcare expenses, and a substantial proportion of employed adults are not sure they are taking advantage of the healthcare savings offered by their employer," De La Torre said. "As we approach open enrollment in the Exchanges, employer-based coverage and Medicare, it is crucial that individuals understand their healthcare options and comparison shop so they can make the most informed decisions for their situation."

The survey found that 12% of adults are uninsured, which is down from 15% in 2014. Most commonly, the uninsured say paying their health expenses and the penalty is less expensive than the health coverage options available to them (29%). About one in six (18%) uninsured adults still claim they are unaware of the ACA's insurance mandate for individuals.

Healthcare Consumers in a Time of Uncertainty is an online survey of more than 4,600 Americans, ages 18-64, that was conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of TCHS. The deck of survey findings contains more than 160 slides.


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