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Poll: Prescription pricing tops health care concerns

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MENLO PARK, Calif. — Reining in prescription drug prices tops the list of health care priorities for Americans as they ready for a new president and Congress, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Of more than 1,200 U.S. adults surveyed in the health think tank’s latest Kaiser Health Tracking Poll, 74% said making high-cost drugs for chronic conditions more affordable was a top priority for the next president and Congress. That was followed by 63% calling government action to lower prescription drug prices a top priority.

Other priorities in the top 10 included making sure health plans have sufficient doctor and hospital networks (seen as a top priority by 57% of respondents); protecting people from high charges an in-network hospital when seen by an out-of-network doctor (54%); better availability of information for comparing doctor and hospital care quality (53%); improved availability of information on the price of visits, tests and procedures (50%); and more readily available information on doctor and hospital coverage in health plans (49%).

Fewer respondents deemed changes to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as top priorities for the upcoming president and Congress.

Of those polled, 44% saw helping people with moderate incomes pay high out-of-pocket costs for medical care as a top priority. About the same percentage viewed repealing the ACA entirely (37%) or repealing the health insurance mandate (38%) as a chief priority. Twenty-nine percent said requiring employers with 50 or more workers to pay a fine if they don’t offer health insurance to their workers was a high priority.

“Among Republicans, however, repealing the Affordable Care Act entirely remains a top issue, ranking second among health care priorities,” the Kaiser Family Foundation stated.

As some private insurers have decided to stop selling plans in many areas, one idea being explored would involve a public health insurance option to compete with private plans in the ACA marketplaces, Kaiser said in its report.

“While most Americans initially say they favor creating a public health insurance option to compete with private plans, how such a proposal is described and labeled significantly impacts level of support,” the foundation explained. “For example, when half of the sample are asked whether they favor or oppose creating a public health insurance option, 70% express a favorable view, while one-fourth (24%) oppose. When the other half are asked whether they favor or oppose creating a government-administered public health insurance option, about half (53%) say they favor such a plan while 41% oppose.”

Overall public sentiment on the ACA is evenly divided, with 45% reporting a favorable and unfavorable view, Kaiser said.


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