According to a new monthly measure of consumer confidence in health care developed by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Americans' confidence in their health insurance coverage and access to health care fell in May.
Based on a monthly survey of five hundred households conducted by the Survey Research Center at the University of Michigan, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Care Consumer Confidence Index: June 2009 (20 pages, PDF) found that Americans' confidence in their coverage and access to care fell 1.3 points in May to 98.7, down from a baseline of 100; the index ranges from 0 to 200. Among insured individuals the confidence reading was 104.1 points, compared with 57.3 for the uninsured.
The report also found that nearly 23 percent of respondents had difficulty paying their medical bills during the past year; 22.4 percent said that over the past year they or a family member delayed seeing a doctor when it was necessary because of concerns about cost; nearly 24 percent feared losing their health insurance over the next twelve months; and 46 percent were worried that they will not be able to pay for their future healthcare needs. In addition, an overwhelming majority (86 percent) of respondents said they believe health reform is an important part of addressing the nation's economic crisis.
"While a great deal of attention is being given in Washington to health reform, we don't hear enough about the concerns of everyday Americans on these important issues," said RWJF president and CEO Risa Lavizzo-Mourey. "We need to know more about how health care is affecting people's daily lives and track that information over time. The RWJF Index shows that Americans feel vulnerable about their health care and want reform. Tracking consumer confidence in health care over time will be an important national indicator for whether we are genuinely improving health care and ultimately the health of all Americans."