Chase Communications, a national public relations and health policy communications firm, and Ed Stevens, a healthcare communications research expert and strategist, have collaborated to create the Chase Healthcare Worry Scale, a survey-based tool for measuring and tracking Americans’ evolving concerns about healthcare and the U.S. healthcare system.
The first Healthcare Worry Scale survey of more than 1,000 Americans nationwide shows that 74 percent are extremely concerned or very concerned about healthcare, just slightly behind the 79 percent concerned about the economy and ahead of the 67 percent about joblessness. In comparison, only 59 percent are as concerned about terrorism and only 51 percent about a government shutdown.
The survey also revealed the chief focus of Americans’ specific healthcare worries is not about urgent health issues such as chronic disease, quality of life, caring for aging parents or end of life care. These issues are usurped by alarm over the cost of healthcare and the impact of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) half (49 percent) say being able to afford healthcare is a major worry. In fact:
- 49 percent say the impact of the ACA on healthcare is a major worry
- 43 percent say getting a disease, medical condition, or injury that their healthcare does not fully cover is a major worry
- 93 percent strongly agree or somewhat agree that healthcare costs will continue to increase, with 61% of this group in the strongly agree category
Only one third worry about fundamental “quality of life” healthcare issues: living longer, but not being healthy (36 percent); care for a chronic disease such as diabetes or heart disease (35 percent); a pre-existing condition (30 percent); healthcare for aging parent (29 percent); and end of life care (28 percent).
“We created the Worry Scale to contribute more real-time data regarding Americans’ thoughts and sentiments to our pharmaceutical, medical device, health policy and advocacy clients seeking to interpret the nation’s healthcare concerns, both current and long-term,” stated Chase president and CEO Julie Chase. “The current focus of the healthcare debates has emphasized cost concerns and that has resulted in distraction from urgent issues that will impact Americans’ health and well-being now and over the course of their entire lives: care for chronic diseases, quality of life, aging parents and end of life care. These looming fundamental issues will be far greater reasons for worry than the short-term debate on healthcare costs.”
“After the debates about the ACA are behind us, we will still be faced with the ongoing challenge of meeting Americans’ evolving healthcare needs,” added Ed Stevens. “The Worry Scale will help us to more accurately read the country’s pulse.”
About the Chase Healthcare Worry Scale
The January 2014 Worry Scale Survey was based on a survey of 1,019 adults (aged 18+) Americans conducted online in December 2013 by ORC International. Random samples of this size have a margin of error of +/- 3%.