A new poll indicates that we’re a sympathetic bunch… as long as it doesn’t cost us anything. 920 adults were surveyed, and 75% who have health insurance rated their current coverage as good or very good. But 75% of the people polled also believe that our health care system needs to be reformed, and are concerned about the millions of Americans who are uninsured. I would put my own family in this same camp: we’re very happy with our current HSA qualified policy. We don’t mind the high deductible, because the premiums are affordable. We like the tax benefits that an HSA brings, and hope to be able to continue this same sort of coverage for the foreseeable future. That said, we strongly believe that something has to be done to make health insurance affordable and available for everyone, regardless of where they work or how healthy they are.
The poll found that although people were generally concerned about people who are uninsured, there was little consensus in terms of approval for the health care reforms that congress has worked on over the last year, and people – especially those with high incomes – were worried that health care reform would make their own situation worse.
The fact that 75% of people with health insurance are happy with their current coverage gives a clue as to why there has been so much protest surrounding the reform debate. When people are happy with their health insurance and hearing a lot of noise from lawmakers about reforms, it’s natural for them to be concerned that their own coverage is going to change. I think that if people were generally unsatisfied with their current health insurance, the reform process would have been less bumpy.
Nearly 60% of American get their health insurance from an employer. This accounts for a large portion of the American people, and they are somewhat insulated from the rapidly rising cost of health care and health insurance. In addition, they generally don’t have to deal with issues surrounding pre-existing conditions. Employer-sponsored health insurance has large premium increases just like individual policies do, but employers typically shoulder a chunk of the increase, softening the impact on employees. However, the percentage of people who are covered by employer-sponsored health insurance has steadily declined over the last decade, and more people than ever are having to fend for themselves when it comes to getting coverage. Perhaps this explains the general sympathy towards those who are uninsured.
The big problem – as usual – comes down to money. People want to keep their current health insurance and also extend coverage to those who are uninsured, but would prefer to do it without paying additional taxes or health insurance premiums. Something’s gotta give. We’ll have to wait and see what congress comes up with next week during their summit with the president, but there’s no way they’re going to make something out of nothing. In order to provide health insurance for everyone, we’ll either have to give up some freedoms (in the form of a mandate requiring everyone to carry coverage) or pay a little extra in taxes or premiums.