Americans Believe Federal Government in Position to Rectify Growing Number of Uninsured

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The majority of Americans (86%) believe that the number of poor and uninsured people seeking medical care are raising the nation’s healthcare costs, and one out of three Americans think the federal government is in the best position to solve the problem of the uninsured, according to a national survey of 1,000 consumers released by the Health Research Institute of PricewaterhouseCoopers. The same survey showed that many Americans think that obese people should pay more for their health insurance.

These findings were included in a broad report by PwC, “Top Seven Health Industry Trends in ‘07,” a comprehensive study identifying some of the most pressing issues facing healthcare companies.

When asked “Who is most likely to solve the problem of the growing number of people in the U.S. who lack health insurance?”, the federal government was the most popular response, cited by more than a third of Americans (38%). State governments were the solution for one out of ten Americans, 13 percent said health insurance companies and 5 percent said private business/employers. Sixteen percent of Americans said “No one, it can never be solved.”

“The states will be laboratories this year in experimenting with ways to cover the uninsured. Collaborating on solutions in states like Massachusetts, California and Illinois will provide key lessons on how the United States can move to greater access nationally,” said Sandy Lutz, director of PricewaterhouseCoopers Health Research Institute.

When survey respondents were asked if consumers with unhealthy habits should pay more for health insurance, 61 percent said that smokers should and 40 percent replied that obese people should. “In terms of public perception, obesity is the new smoking. These survey results suggest that many Americans want to hold individuals accountable for their lifestyle decisions,” Lutz said. “It appears that many Americans now recognize that obesity is an epidemic as well as a costly public health issue.”

When asked, “What’s the cause of the rising cost of healthcare in the United States,” in addition to blaming the increased numbers of those without healthcare insurance, 67 percent stated that greed was a ‘big factor” and 61 percent said medical malpractice was a “big factor.”

Eighty-six percent of Americans listed “administrative paperwork” as a contributing factor. The survey further revealed that 46 percent of respondents believe expensive prescription drugs are a big factor driving up costs.

Nearly half (49%) of those surveyed said that private industry, such as biotechnology firms, should fund stem cell research in the United States and 44 percent of respondents said that the federal government should do so. Forty-two percent believe this was the responsibility of foundations and philanthropists, and 38 percent thought stem cell research should be funded by colleges, universities and academic medical centers. One out of four said that the funding should come from state governments.

These survey results are referenced in “Top Seven Health Industry Trends in ‘07,” a comprehensive report, published by The Health Research Institute of PwC. To forecast the top issues in 2007, PricewaterhouseCoopers commissioned a survey of 1,000 consumers in October 2006. The report was also based on the Institute’s work with leading employers, policymakers, associations, advocacy groups and organizations across the health industries, including hospitals, health systems, physician groups, government and commercial health insurers, pharmaceutical companies and life sciences firms.
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