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All-Important Health Issue for 2012


Health care is the second most important issue for the 2012 election, tying with the $15 trillion national deficit, and second only to job creation.

With the state of the economy the way it is, it’s unsurprising that Americans believe job creation to be the most important issue in the upcoming election year. However, health care is the second most, tying with the $15 trillion national deficit, according to a report by PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Health Research Institute.

According to the annual report, 46% of Americans surveyed decided to forgo health care at least once this year because of rising out-of-pocket costs. (See also: "Care is Often Poorly Coordinated.")

“2012 will be a seminal year for the health industries as businesses wade through economic, regulatory and political uncertainty," said Kelly Barnes, U.S. health industries practice leader at PwC. “One of the ways the health industry is responding to these uncertainties is by connecting in new ways with each other and their consumers as they rethink existing business models and previous notions about competition, cooperation and collaboration."

One of the key issues PwC outlined in its report was turning value-based payment structures into a reality in 2012. Survey respondents are looking to see integration of health insurance companies and providers next year, which 38% expect will result in a decrease in the cost of care and 36% expect an increase in quality of care.

PwC also highlighted health insurance exchanges as a key issue for 2012. A year from now, states will begin certifying plans for participation in exchanges and a third (34%) of respondents admitted that “they would have a less favorable impression of a health insurance company that decided not to participate in their state's health insurance exchange,” probably because they have expectations about the sort of value exchanges will bring them.

Privacy and security are deciding factors for patients: 30% would choose one hospital over another (if cost, quality and access were equal) based on privacy and security policies. However, patients are very much in favor of having their information shared with other health professionals in certain instances. If sharing their information would improve coordination of care, then 60% are comfortable with it.

According to the report, almost three-quarters of health care organizations are using or intend to use health data for reasons other than treating a patient. And less than half have addressed privacy and security implications that would arise.

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