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News of the Day ... In Perspective

03/28/2006

Few Americans willing to pay for better medical care

About a third of Americans surveyed in an online poll favor having insurers pay more to hospitals and doctors that have been shown to provide better care, but few would be willing to pay more for such care. Only 14% said they would be willing to pay significantly higher insurance premiums to be covered for better quality care, and 57% said they thought it would be unfair to have to pay more.

Not quite half (49%) said there were fair and reliable ways to compare quality of care, down from 58% in 2003. About a third (35%) were unsure, and 16% said there were no fair or reliable ways.

When asked about specific methods of measuring and comparing quality of care, however, 69% said they felt patient satisfaction surveys were fair; 55%, frequency of screening tests; 61%, medical tests measuring effective management of chronic conditions; 47%, use of electronic medical records and other information tools; 58%, assessments by organizations like JCAHO; 58%, assessments by medical boards; and 41%, malpractice suits.

Harris Interactive conducted this survey of 2,123 adults in March, 2006 (WSJ.com 3/28/06).

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