Health Insurance, Reform Causing Stress Among Americans

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If you are experiencing stress, anxiety, and annoyance whenever you think or talk about health insurance or health reform, you are not alone. A new survey from Misericordia University and Braun Research finds that the health care reform debate is a cause of stress and annoyance among most Americans.

The health care reform debate has been going on for much too long for many Americans, and it is affecting their mental and emotional health. To better understand how Americans are feeling about and reacting to these issues, Misericordia University conducted their first Health Care in America Survey. The survey questioned more than 1,000 Americans between November 6 and 16, 2009 on issues around health insurance, the effect of health care debate on their individual relationships and household budgets, as well as who Americans trust the most for information on the topic.

The researchers found that because of their concerns about health care, Americans plan to spend less on holiday gifts and are experiencing an increased amount of tension. Their primary worries around health care reform include the cost to future generations, the impact it will have on the federal deficit, how much out-of-pocket expenses are going to impact them, and the accessibility of quality health care coverage.

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Other findings of the survey include that nearly 25 percent of Americans say they would consider withholding information from an insurance company if they feared it might limit their ability to access health care. People who consider their views to be “very liberal” are more likely than others to withhold such information or stretch the truth about their family’s and their personal medical history.

The survey also revealed that families and doctors are the most trusted sources of information about health care reform, that nearly 25 percent of Americans are taking fewer sick days at work, and that more than 90 percent of Americans like the health insurance they have now. However, about one-third of Americans do not take advantage of preventive health testing or screenings even when they are available through their current coverage.

One-third of Americans are afraid they might lose their health insurance, and 10 percent of Americans have been forced to drop their health insurance. All of these issues add up to a majority of Americans feeling either annoyed, stressed, or frustrated by the ongoing health care debate. Adults who are nearing retirement tend to feel more stress, anger, and helplessness than their younger counterparts.

Michael MacDowel, EdD, president of Misericordia University, notes that as the debate continues about health insurance and health care reform, “it is paramount that we keep in mind the impact that this process is having on individual Americans.” It is conceivable that the longer the uncertainties about health reform go on and people are worried about their health insurance coverage, that levels of stress, frustration, and annoyance will rise.

SOURCE:
Misericordia University news release, Dec. 4, 2009

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