Poll: New Jersey voters frustrated by rising health care costs want caps on premiums, deductibles

Here are two things about health care that probably won’t surprise you: New Jersey residents still aren’t happy with the system — and their biggest complaint is the cost.

The extent of this dissatisfaction is evident in Consumers for Quality Care’s annual survey, which was released this morning.

Nearly four in 10 respondents (38%) say out-of-pocket costs are their biggest concern. Determining the source of this cost problem was not so easy.

When more than one reason could be given, all leading issues received attention, including:

· Monthly premiums are too high (36%)

· Deductibles are too high (32%)

· Prescription drug costs are too high (27%)

All of these results lead to a more definitive larger point: 78% agree that health care costs are rising more than other things they need.

Respondents strongly agreed on what needs to be done to reduce costs, saying the following measures would be effective:

● Limiting insurance deductibles to a level that is low enough that people do not go into debt when they get the health care they need (73%);

● Limiting the amount health insurers can charge patients in general (73%);

● Requiring health insurers and pharmacy managers to pass on rebates or discounts they receive from pharmaceutical companies to patients (76%).

Dr Donna Christensen, a CQC board member and former member of Congress (Virgin Islands, non-voting), said the voters were clear.

“New Jersey residents are tired of insurers taking advantage of consumers by increasing deductibles, premiums and other out-of-pocket costs and not covering important care, such as mental health,” she said.

“New Jersey families should not avoid seeking health care out of fear that unpredictable out-of-pocket costs will send them into debt.” It’s time for insurance to act as insurance and for our lawmakers to prioritize reducing costs and improving access to quality care.”

Fixing the system seems to be a preference as well. Majorities in New Jersey say they are more likely to support a candidate who focuses on reducing out-of-pocket costs and premiums (52% choose this candidate) than one who focuses on “fundamental” health care change through switching to a government system (38% prefer this type of candidate).

The survey found that New Jersey residents want their elected officials to take action to reduce out-of-pocket health care costs. More than 8 in 10 voters (81%) say they are more likely to support a candidate who makes reducing health care costs a top priority.

Pete Brodnitz, founder and president of Expedition Strategies, which helped conduct the survey, said the theme of the results was clear.

“Amid rising inflation, New Jersey voters want protection against high out-of-pocket health care costs and are showing they’re willing to support candidates who make that a priority,” he said. “Measures to limit the total amount insurers can charge and cap deductibles are measures most New Jersey voters say will help control out-of-pocket health care costs.”

Methodology: The Impact Research/Expedition Strategies survey on behalf of CQC was conducted on 22-26 June. The online survey included 603 registered voters in New Jersey. The overall results were weighted to reflect the state’s composition of registered voters.

See the full survey results here.

Behavioral health requires attention

It’s hard to get voters to agree on anything these days. The annual health care survey released Monday by Consumers for Quality Care found one thing: An overwhelming majority of respondents agreed there should be more access — and more coverage — related to behavioral health.

Key findings include:

● 90% think it is more important than ever for insurance companies to cover mental health care;

● 58% agree that it is difficult to find mental health providers who are insured;

● 39% believe the biggest barrier preventing people from accessing mental health care is that not everyone is insured.

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