Taking the Temperature of Health Care

Louis Harris and Associates, Inc. (now Harris Interactive Inc.), New York, carried out a 1995 survey of consumer perceptions of health system changes.

Using 15-minute telephone interviews, Louis Harris & Associates surveyed about 4,500 adults in 15 U.S. communities selected for diversity in size, location, population, and degree of health market development.

Data collection was completed in one month during the summer of 1995.

Key Findings

  • The survey found that consumers were surprisingly positive about recent changes in their personal access to care and quality of care and were greatly concerned about costs and looked to managed care as a means of significantly holding them down. Specifically, the survey found:

    • Access to, quality of, and cost of health care and perceived changes in these areas.
      • Americans are positive in their reaction to recent changes in their personal access to and quality of care.
    • Reactions to managed care and other market changes.
      • The public views change as less sweeping than do people who work in the health care system.
      • The greater the HMO penetration, the more positive people are about managed care.
      • Overall, consumers view the trend to managed care as a positive way of controlling costs.
    • Expectations for and concerns about the future.
      • Most consumers focus on costs and insurance coverage.
      • Some 89 percent expect out-of-pocket costs to rise, and 91 percent expect higher costs to taxpayers for care of the elderly and indigent.
      • Some 41 percent of respondents report concerns that their current health insurance benefits will be cut back, and 31 percent reported that they fear not being able to continue to use their current doctor.