Patients express some of their biggest healthcare worries for 2020.
With the 2020 elections approaching, The Physicians Foundation explores some of the healthcare issues likely to be on voters’ minds in its biennial Survey of America’s Patients. The survey delves into Americans’ attitudes and opinions on issues ranging from rising costs for medical care to single-payer healthcare to responsibility for the opioid epidemic. Highlights follow.
Worry over paying for medical care
Rising costs have Americans worried about paying for medical care. 73 percent of survey respondents said they were “very” or “somewhat” concerned about their ability to pay, while the remaining 27 percent were “somewhat” or “very” unconcerned about it.
Americans blame prescription drugs for rising healthcare costs
Asked what contributes most to rising healthcare costs, 62 percent of respondents place the blame on the cost of prescription drugs. Other factors cited include hospital costs (49 percent), physician fees (18 percent), social determinants of health (18 percent), and chronic illnesses (17 percent).
Social determinants of health
Americans are increasingly aware that non-medical issues are important in determining health outcomes. 77 percent of respondents “strongly” or “somewhat” agree that care providers need to look beyond their patients’ medical needs to see if problems such as food, transportation, and housing issues are affecting a patient’s health.
What does “single payer healthcare” mean?
“Single payer healthcare” has become part of the 2020 presidential campaign, but Americans differ on its meaning. Survey respondents offered the following definitions:
· All healthcare-related services paid for by a single government or government-related source: 31 percent
· All healthcare-related services are funded by taxpayers: 16 percent
· Medicare expanded to cover all Americans: 15 percent
· Something else: 2 percent
· Not sure: 22 percent
Responsibility for the opioid epidemic
Asked who’s responsible for America’s epidemic of opioid-related deaths and addictions, 53% of respondents placed the blame on pharmaceutical companies, while 39 percent said doctors are at fault. Others assigned blame include patients (38 percent), the government (12 percent) and pharmacists (9 percent). 56 percent of respondents know someone addicted to opioids or has died from using them.
Impact of technology
When it comes to the benefits of technology in healthcare, survey respondents were of two minds. On the one hand, 85 percent “strongly” or “somewhat” agreed that technological advances will greatly improve the quality of care patients receive. At the same time, 60 percent “strongly” or “somewhat” agreed that relying on technology can interfere with high quality care.