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Health-care consumer confidence index drops

The public’s confusion and angst over health-care reform is showing up in the latest Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Care Consumer Confidence Index.

The index dropped 5.2 points to 97.2 in July. (Baseline of the index is 100.)

“Over the past few months, Americans have been increasingly bombarded with conflicting information about their health care, and some of it has probably been misinformation about health reform,” said Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, in a statement. “It is no surprise that consumer confidence in health care is erratic right now. People are confused about all of the different information they are hearing and not sure whom to trust.”

The RWJF Index is calculated from data collected by the University of Michigan’s Surveys of Consumers. The University of Minnesota’s State Health Access Data Assistance Center developed the index earlier this year and analyzes the data each month.

Among the findings in July:

• 51.9 percent of Americans are worried that they will not be able to pay for their future health care needs in the event of a serious illness.

• 47.1 percent are worried that they will not be able to afford all of the routine health care services they need.

• 17.4 percent report being worried about losing coverage because they will not be able to afford the increasing costs of their current coverage.

• While Medicare-eligible seniors have reported the highest confidence levels, their confidence dropped 10.4 points since June. Individuals age 50-64 have had the lowest confidence levels since the survey began, and their index was 90.7 in July.

“We continue to see people struggling under the weight of our broken health care system,” said Lavizzo-Mourey. “Americans are feeling uneasy about their ability to pay for future and current health care needs. Unless meaningful reforms are enacted to control cost and ensure timely access to a physician when one is needed, the number of Americans struggling to afford health care and worrying about how they will survive will likely increase.”

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