Most Americans are confident that their employers will continue to offer health benefits. Whether people will be able to afford to purchase them on their own is an entirely different matter.
The blue and the red bars graphically tell this story: the blue ‘confidence’ bars say people have faith that employers and unions will probably offer health insurance in the future. The red bars say that if Americans are given cash by employers or unions to purchase health coverage on their own, they’re not confident they’ll be able to do so.

This story is told by the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI), whose 12th annual Health Confidence Survey is out for 2009. According to EBRI’s survey, most Americans support insurance market reform and a public plan option.

Between 68% and 88% of Americans support health reform options including national plans, a public plan option, guaranteed issue, expansion of Medicare and Medicaid, and mandates on employers and individuals.

About 80% of people with greater out-of-pocket costs are pushing people to choose generic drugs where available; about 1 in four of those with higher OOP costs say they did not fill an Rx or they skipped doses of their prescribed meds due to higher costs.

67% of insured Americans say they’re talking to their doctors more carefully about treatment options and costs; this number was 58% in 2004. 64% of Americans are also going to the doctor only for more serous conditions of symptoms (according to their perceptions of ‘seriousness’).

The future isn’t clear when Americans imaging the US health system. While 57% of Americans are confident about their ability to get the treatments they need today, only 35% are confident about their ability to get needed treatments during the next 10 years. Only 22% are confident
they’ll get necessary treatments once they’re Medicare-eligible.

Health Populi’s Hot Points: For the health-insured population, it’s the costs, stupid. People aren’t confident about the future viability of American health care in terms of whether they’ll be able to access and afford necessary treatment.

Their current proxy for this is self-rationing prescription drugs and visits to doctors when deemed ‘necessary.’

That’s what’s certain in today’s health economic climate. What will also be certain, but difficult to quantify today, is that many of these people are sacrificing their future health outcomes based on tight personal health finances today.