Survey: N.J. voters, frustrated by rising health care costs, want caps on premiums, deductibles

Respondents in Consumers for Quality Care poll want to fix system rather than change to government-run model

Here are two things related to health care that surely won’t surprise you: New Jerseyans still are not happy with the system – and their biggest complaint is the cost.

The extent of this displeasure is evident in the Consumers for Quality Care annual survey, which was released this morning.

Nearly four in 10 of those surveyed (38%) said out-of-pocket-costs being too high was their biggest issue. Pinpointing the source of that cost issue wasn’t as easy.

Given a chance to name more than one cause, all of the leading issues received attention, including:

· Monthly premiums are too high (36%)

· Deductibles are too high (32%)

· Prescription drug costs are too high (27%)

All of these results led to a more definitive larger point: 78% agree that the costs of health care are going up more than other things they need.

Those surveyed were in strong agreement of what should be done to lower costs, saying the following measures would be effective:

● Capping insurance deductibles at a level that is low enough that people don’t go into debt when getting the health care they need (73%);

● Capping the amount health insurers can charge patients overall (73%);

● Requiring health insurers and pharmacy benefit managers to pass the rebates or discounts they receive from drug companies on to patients (76%).

Dr. Donna Christensen, a board CQC board member and former member of Congress (Virgin Islands, non-voting) said the word from voters is clear.

“New Jerseyans are tired of insurers taking advantage of consumers with rising deductibles, premiums, and other out-of-pocket costs, and not covering important care, such as mental health,” she said.

“New Jersey families shouldn’t have to avoid seeking health care out of fear that unpredictable out-of-pocket costs will drive them into debt. It’s time for insurance to act like insurance and for our lawmakers to prioritize lowering costs and improving access to quality care.”

Fixing the system appears to be the preference, too. A majority in New Jersey say they are more inclined to support a candidate who is focused on reducing out-of-pocket costs and premiums (52% choose this candidate) than one who is focused on “fundamentally” changing health care by switching to a government run system (38% prefer this type of candidate).

The survey found that New Jerseyans want their elected officials to take action to lower out-of-pocket health care costs. More than 8-in-10 voters (81%) say they are more likely to support a candidate who makes reducing health care costs their top priority.

Pete Brodnitz, founder and president of Expedition Strategies, which helped conduct the poll, said the theme of the results is clear.

“Amid rising inflation, New Jersey voters want protection against high out-of-pocket health care costs and they indicate they are willing to support candidates who make that a priority,” he said. “Measures to cap the amount insurers can charge overall and capping deductibles are measures most New Jersey voters indicate will help to control out-of-pocket health care costs.”

Methodology: The Impact Research/Expedition Strategies poll on behalf of CQC was conducted June 22-26. The online survey sampled 603 registered voters in New Jersey. Overall results were weighted to reflect the composition of registered voters in the state.

See the complete survey results here.

Behavioral health needs attention

It’s hard to get voters to agree on anything these days. The annual health care survey released Monday by Consumers for Quality Care found one: Respondents overwhelming agreed there needs to be more access – and more coverage – related to behavioral health.

Key findings included:

● 90% felt it’s more important than ever that insurance companies cover mental health care;

● 58% agree it’s difficult to find mental health providers that are covered by insurance;

● 39% think the greatest barrier keeping people from accessing mental health care is that they are not all covered by insurance.