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Americans Support Medicare Reform, But Not on Their Dime: Poll

Most want drug companies, higher-income beneficiaries to pay more

NORWALK, Conn., USA – April 26, 2012 – 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 by Harris 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.

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About HealthDay
HealthDay 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 onHealthDay TV, a 90-second daily news broadcast appearing on several major media and U.S. government websites.

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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 Interactive

Harris 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.

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