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Health Care Consumer Confidence Index improves

Movement on the health-care reform front might be having an impact on the new Health Care Consumer Confidence Index.

The index reached its highest point in seven months of tracking how consumers feel about their health insurance coverage and their access to health care, according to a report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The RWJF Index for October climbed out of negative territory to 104.4 points, up nearly 8 points since September. The index, which has a baseline of 100, ranges from 0 to 200.

“During a month when there was considerable momentum around health reform including the passage of a reform bill by the Senate Finance Committee, the American public appears to be more confident about the future of their health care,” said Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, in a statement. “Americans of every ideology know that our health care system needs to be fixed and want some type of reform.”

The RWJF Index is created from data collected by the University of Michigan’s Surveys of Consumers, which tracks consumers’ confidence on a number of economic issues. The health care data are then analyzed by the University of Minnesota’s State Health Access Data Assistance Center

Last month’s survey found that 23.3 percent of respondents were worried about losing their insurance compared with 33.4 percent in September. More than half (53.2 percent) were worried about being able to afford insurance in September, but last month that figure dropped to 43.4 percent.

Other findings from the October surveys:

• About 72 percent believe that if health reform is enacted, access to care will either improve or stay the same.

• More than 9 percent said they were worried about losing their employer-sponsored insurance coverage in the event their employer stop providing the benefit, down from 15.5 percent in September.

• 79.2 percent think President Obama needs to include health reform in plans to address the economy.

• 20.6 percent of respondents reported having trouble paying their health care bills, compared to 23.1 percent in September.

Here’s the full report. [pdf]

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