Healthcare costs still top of mind for anxious Americans
Nearly half of Americans skipped a doctor visit or getting a prescription filled because of cost at least once last year, according to a PwC poll which found healthcare worries right behind jobs among respondents' concerns.
The national poll of 1,000 people by PwC's Health Research Institute found healthcare to be on equal footing with the federal deficit for the nation's number two concern after job creation. Forty-six percent of respondents said they'd decided against seeking care or paying for drugs at least once in the past year, and one in ten said they'd done so at least five times in the past year.
Those anxieties about healthcare costs may be driving popular disdain for last year's healthcare reform legislation. A Gallup poll released today found 47% of Americans in favor of repealing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the better part of which has not gone into effect yet (though past polling has found the public much more receptive to the individual components of the law).
“2012 will be a seminal year for the health industries as businesses wade through economic, regulatory and political uncertainty,” said Kelly Barnes, US health industries practice leader for 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.”
The firm said that higher deductibles and copays will crimp utilization in the coming year and suggested that insurers and employers “will need to carefully monitor the impact of care deferral on workplace health and productivity.” Other top issues identified by PwC for the health industries include: More emphasis on proving value as cost pressures bring about new performance- and value-based payment structures with teeth; A move toward population health driving still-tighter payer-provider relationships; Increased anxiety over drug shortages due to sudden increases in demand, discontinuations, manufacturing delays and quality issues among generics manufacturers; and greater investment in healthcare informatics, along with a renewed focus on information privacy and security among health organizations.