MMS 2013 Public Opinion Poll Results: Affordability is Key Concern

Vital Signs September 2013

Seventy-eight (78) percent of Massachusetts adults believe that affordability is the single most important health care issue facing the state, according to the 2013 MMS Public Opinion Poll, released last month.

Residents were more likely to cite affordability and cost-related issues than issues related to health care access by a three-to-one margin. Access-related issues are a distant second, mentioned by just 13% of residents. When asked an open-ended question about the single most important health care issue facing the state, the most common responses still focused on cost and affordability.

This year’s poll, conducted in collaboration with Anderson Robbins Research, included approximately 417 telephone interviews with randomly selected Massachusetts residents over 21 years of age. Region and gender quotas were established to ensure a representative sample.

Most Massachusetts residents polled, approximately 84%, said they were generally satisfied with the health care they received over the past year. This percentage includes 56% of residents who were “very satisfied” and 28% who were “somewhat satisfied” with the health care they received in the past 12 months.

While the survey findings were largely positive in terms of residents’ feelings about health care quality, there were clear divisions with regard to socioeconomic status. Those with higher income levels and more education were more likely to be satisfied with their health care and reported less difficulty in obtaining care than those with lower income and less education.

Approximately 90% of those with household income over $100,000 were at least “somewhat satisfied” with their health care, compared to 76% of those with income under $50,000. Similarly, satisfaction was 10 percentage points lower among those with just a high school education or less (76%) than among those with at least some college education (86%).

When those who say they were either “very satisfied” or “somewhat satisfied” were asked to explain why, they were most likely to explain their satisfaction in terms of the quality of care they have received. More than 45% of those interviewed reported that their satisfaction was based on “quality of care/good doctors,” while another 6% reported that they “like their doctor/have a good relationship with their doctor.”

After quality-of-care explanations, residents explain their satisfaction in terms related to the ease of access to health care (27%) as well as positive experiences with health insurance (20%).

The full study is available on the Massachusetts Medical Society website at www.massmed.org/poll2013.

— Melissa Higdon

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