Access to Healthcare Number One Priority Among Americans

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

A first poll ever has found that Americans place highest value on access to care when it comes to making decisions about spending money on healthcare, placing health products and services lower on the list. Access to health care was ranked significantly higher than all other health products, including preventive services and mental health.

Responses of Americans about the importance of access to health care were extracted from The Spectrum Health Value Study™, the first study of its kind. The poll was designed to measure the importance of health care products and services from a personal financial decision-making perspective.
Americans responded that access to health care services is a number one priority, the first priority being access to physician services, followed by hospital medical services, then emergency room services.


The study showed that access to health care also ranked higher than substance abuse, mental health services, and mental retardation services. John J. Seng, president and CEO of Spectrum says the findings cannot be overlooked in the debate over health care reform. "Health reformers cannot afford to overlook how everyday constituents, when faced with difficult trade-offs, place a relative value on health services and products as they would spend their own money”, says Seng

Audrey Spolarich, Spectrum's senior advisor for research says when it comes to spending money, Americans say, “it's all about access to care”. Americans place mental health and prevention services lower on their list of priorities.

Other findings from the study revealed that sixty nine percent of Americans believe costs associated with health care benefits and services are ultimately paid by individuals. In addition, most Americans say they do not use preventive health care services regularly, and when they do they are dissatisfied with the quality, thought they do place value on preventive health services. Americans realize there is an obesity epidemic, but do not take advantage of nutritional counselling services. Those that do, say they are unsatisfactory for helping with weight loss. The study also showed that health insurance coverage dropped from 82 percent in January to 74 percent in April. Americans simply want access to health care when they need it.

The most interesting finding showed that Americans place slight value on emergency relief and preventive services associated with the recent H1N1 flu outbreak. Spectrum plans to continue studying the health values of Americans, and plan to publish the results on a quarterly basis. The study asked the respondents to make choices about 27 health care services and products. The first round shows that Americans value access to health care above other health products and services. The study is ongoing at