Two pieces of news provide a flicker of hope amid the doom and gloom.
NORWALK, Conn., April 26, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Medicare, the federal health insurance program for 49 million older and disabled Americans, may be hurtling toward the critical list, but most people don't want to pay for needed reforms from their own wallets, according to a new Harris Interactive/HealthDay poll released today.
Eighty-three percent of those polled believe changes are needed to keep Medicare affordable and sustainable, and 51 percent think that "a great deal of change" is necessary. But they'd rather not make any personal sacrifices, the poll found.
"There's a clear majority who think there is a problem that needs to be addressed, but (people also believe) if the changes are going to cost me money in terms of higher co-pays, higher deductibles or higher taxes, no thank you," said Humphrey Taylor, chairman of The Harris Poll.
More than 15 percent of the federal budget goes toward Medicare, and that's projected to increase to 17.5 percent by 2020 -- the third largest government expenditure after Social Security and defense, government statistics show.
When presented with nine proposals for slowing the rate of Medicare spending, the poll revealed strong approval (72 percent) for cutting the price Medicare pays for prescription drugs to pharmaceutical companies, and modest support for trimming fees to hospitals (47 percent favor, 28 percent oppose) and doctors (41 percent to 35 percent).
Few favor higher taxes and out-of-pocket contributions, such as increased co-pays and deductibles. Fifty-three percent and 60 percent, respectively, oppose those options. But a majority said people with higher incomes should pay more for Medicare benefits than lower-income individuals (57 percent favor, 21 percent oppose).
A majority (54 percent to 18 percent) of those polled agree that doctors and hospitals should be paid based on quality and results, rather than the volume of care provided. Even in Washington, D.C., Taylor noted, "there is an acceptance … that the traditional fee-for-service way of paying for things is a kind of toxic incentive and needs to be changed."
The poll also found that people like having a choice between traditional fee-for-service Medicare and Medicare Advantage plans. Only small percentages would like to see the program run exclusively by the federal government (12 percent) or by private health plans (13 percent).
The poll included 2,229 U.S adults over age 18 surveyed online between April 5-9 byHarris Interactive, one of the world's leading custom market research firms. HealthDay is a leading producer and syndicator of health news.
The complete findings of the newest joint Harris Interactive/HealthDay poll are available here. HealthDay's news report is available here. Full data on the poll and its methodology are available at Harris Interactive.
About HealthDayHealthDay is a leading producer and syndicator of evidence-based health news for consumers and physicians and is one of the largest health news syndicators to Internet sites. Its daily consumer health news service http://consumer.healthday.com/ appears on more than 5,000 websites such as Yahoo!, MSN Health, USNews.com, Everyday Health, and government websites like Healthfinder.gov, and MedlinePlus. A daily video version of the top health news story of the day is featured on HealthDay TV, a 90-second daily news broadcast appearing on several major media and U.S. government websites.
HealthDay also produces Physician's Briefing (www.physiciansbriefing.com), a daily news service for physicians and other medical professionals. This service is licensed to hospitals, managed care organizations, media companies, and point of care providers like Epocrates.
HealthDay's custom content division produces specialized content for a variety of audiences and works with some of the larger health portals in the United States.
About Harris InteractiveHarris Interactive is one of the world's leading custom market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the Harris Poll and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers expertise in a wide range of industries including health care, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer package goods. Serving clients in more than 215 countries and territories through our North American, European, and Asian offices and a network of independent market research firms, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help us - and our clients - stay ahead of what's next. For more information, please visit www.harrisinteractive.com.
TABLE 1FAVOR/OPPOSE 9 PROPOSALS FOR SLOWING GROWTH OF MEDICARE SPENDING"Many experts believe that we will need to make some tough decisions to pay for, or at least slow down the rate of growth of Medicare costs in the future. Would you favor or oppose each of the following proposals for doing this?"
Base: All Adults
Cutting the price paid for prescription drugs
Having people with higher incomes pay more for their Medicare benefits then people with lower incomes
Paying doctors and hospitals based on the quality of care they provide and on the results or outcomes of their care, rather than paying for the amount of care they provide (not asked in 2011)
Cutting the fees paid to hospitals
Cutting the fees paid to doctors
Raising the age of Medicare eligibility from 65 to 66 and then to 67 as the number of people this age increases
Using measures of cost-effectiveness to charge people more for services that are not as cost-effective
Increasing taxes as Medicare costs increase
Increasing co-pays and deductibles so that out-of-pocket costs will increase
Percentages may not add up exactly to 100% due to rounding
TABLE 2FAVOR 9 PROPOSALS FOR SLOWING GROWTH OF MEDICARE SPENDING—BY PARTY"Many experts believe that we will need to make some tough decisions to pay for, or at least slow down the rate of growth of Medicare costs in the future. Would you favor or oppose each of the following proposals for doing this?"
Paying doctors and hospitals based on the quality of care they provide and on the results or outcomes of their care, rather than paying for the amount of care they provide
Increasing taxes as the Medicare costs increase
TABLE 3AWARENESS OF DEBATE ABOUT FUTURE OF MEDICARE"How aware, if at all, are you of the recent discussion and debate about the future of Medicare?"
Not at all Aware
TABLE 4HOW MUCH CHANGE IS NECESSARY TO KEEP MEDICARE AFFORDABLE"As we look to the future, how much change, if any, do you think is necessary to keep the Medicare program affordable for the average American?"
A great deal
None at all
Percentages may not add up exactly to 100% due to rounding
TABLE 5FAVOR/OPPOSE PROPOSAL FOR PREMIUM SUPPORT (NO SPONSOR MENTIONED)"One proposal to change the Medicare program is that the government would provide everyone who is eligible with a voucher they could use to buy their own policies from private health insurance companies. Would you favor or oppose this idea?"
Base: All Adults (Split Sample)
TABLE 6FAVOR/OPPOSE PROPOSAL FOR PREMIUM SUPPORT (WHEN DESCRIBED AS REPUBLICAN PROPOSAL)"The Republicans in the House of Representatives have proposed to change the Medicare program so that the government would provide everyone who is eligible with a voucher that they could use to buy their own policies from private health insurance companies. Would you favor or oppose this idea?"
TABLE 7PREFERRED ROLES OF GOVERNMENT AND PRIVATE INSURANCE IN MEDICARE PROGRAM"In general, which one of the following options do you think would be best for the American people?"
People Aged 50 and Over
The Medicare program we have now, where people can choose the government run program or a plan from a private health insurance company
A Medicare program solely run by private insurance companies
A Medicare program solely provided by government
MethodologyThis survey was conducted online within the United StatesApril 5 to 9, 2012 among 2,229 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online.
All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words "margin of error" as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.
Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.
Full data available at www.harrisinteractive.com
The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of Harris Interactive.
These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.
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SOURCE Harris Interactive