Poll Reveals Western New Yorkers are Concerned

With the Supreme Court’s Ruling Pending, a New Poll Reveals Western New Yorkers are Concerned Eliminating the Individual Mandate Could Negatively Impact the Affordability of Health Care

AMHERST, N.Y. (June 19, 2012) – With a ruling on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the individual mandate expected this month, a new Independent Health poll indicates a majority of Western New Yorkers are concerned about how the Supreme Court’s decision might impact costs and the affordability of health care.

Research shows 64 percent of those residents surveyed in Erie and Niagara County have an unfavorable opinion of the individual mandate requiring all Americans to have health insurance or else pay a fine, while 36 percent have a favorable opinion. However, those numbers change dramatically when informed that invalidating the mandate would likely result in higher costs.

When told health costs will increase without the individual mandate, the percentage of those favoring it increases from 36 percent to 53 percent, while those not in favor decreases from 64 percent to 47 percent if told costs will rise without the mandate.
Republicans had a much less favorable opinion of the individual mandate with 72 percent unfavorable, compared to 56 percent unfavorable among Democrats. Interestingly, those numbers changed to 55 percent favorable across both sides of the political aisle when told eliminating the mandate will result in higher costs.
The findings were part of a recent survey on health care opinions among Western New Yorkers conducted by Thoroughbred Research Group and sponsored by Independent Health.

“These findings underscore the public’s concerns about health care costs and the need to help bring them under control,” said Michael W. Cropp, M.D., president and CEO at Independent Health. “A ruling to invalidate the individual mandate would bring into question the affordability of health care, since only those who need health insurance would likely buy it.”

“Implementing insurance reforms without requiring or incentivizing the largest number of people to have coverage will result in continued increases in costs,” said Dr. Cropp. “Alternative options to a mandate could include incentives or late-enrollment fees; for example, Congress relied on financial penalties to create a large risk pool in the Medicare prescription drug program, rather than a requirement to purchase coverage.”

Other key findings from the survey include:

  • Prescription drug costs were seen as the number one factor impacting rising health care costs (61 percent), followed by hospital costs (56.8 percent), and growth in the uninsured/underinsured (48.7 percent).
  • The government is perceived as the party most responsible for “fixing” health care (64.6 percent), followed health plans/insurers (53 percent), and consumers (43.9 percent). Further down the list were physicians (39.7 percent) and businesses/employers (25.6 percent).
  • Two-thirds (65 percent) feel it is important for health care providers to use electronic or computer-based medical records instead of using paper-based records.
  • 57.1 percent said physicians should be compensated based on quality care/outcomes instead of volume-based outcomes.

The survey included 477 telephone interviews with residents of Erie and Niagara counties conducted by Thoroughbred Research Group, with the data weighted to better represent the local population and a maximum margin of error at 95 percent confidence. The interviews were conducted May 9-17, 2012, and analyzed and first reported to Independent Health in June.

Thoroughbred Research Group is an employee-owned company headquartered in Louisville, Ky. For more than 30 years it has worked with clients in a collaborative spirit to deliver Preemptive, Proactive and ProjectiveTM business critical research to a wide range of public and private enterprises. National in scope, personal in delivery, Thoroughbred Research Group has expertise in all types of data collection, web-enabled research, qualitative and quantitative methodologies, analysis and consulting. More information is available at www.torinc.net.

Headquartered in Buffalo, Independent Health began operations in 1980 and has consistently been rated among the top health plans in the country for customer service and member satisfaction. Independent Health’s comprehensive portfolio of product and service offerings include HMO, POS, PPO and EPO products, Medicare and Medicaid plans, traditional indemnity insurance, consumer-directed plans, coverage for self-funded employers, plus health savings account (HSA) and pharmacy benefit management (PBM) services. Combined, the company provides health benefits and services to nearly 375,000 individuals in Western New York and throughout the country. For more information, visit Independent Health’s website at www.independenthealth.com.