More in U.S. Worried about Health Costs than Job Loss

CHW Health Security Index Shows Even Affluent Are Increasingly Concerned About Affordability

San Francisco, CA - April 5, 2009 - Despite the surging unemployment rate and continuing corporate layoffs, nearly twice as many U.S. adults are concerned about the rising cost of health care as are concerned about losing their jobs. A nationally representative survey found that 69 percent of adults in the U.S. said they were worried about the cost of health care, while just 37 percent expressed similar concern about staying employed.

The affordability anxiety is even affecting higher income families, where households earning more than $75,000 saw health care cost concerns jump from 39 percent last year to 50 percent. The annual Health Security Index survey, commissioned by Catholic Healthcare West, was conducted by Yankelovich (part of The Futures Company) to measure perceptions of individuals' confidence about their health and health care.

"Today's headlines are justifiably focused on the overall economic crisis, but our Health Security Index findings show that health care affordability is a significant and enduring concern," said Lloyd Dean, president/chief executive officer of Catholic Healthcare West. "Simply put, health care costs too much. Change is clearly overdue and the need for improvement is undeniable."

On April 6, 2009 Lloyd Dean, a recognized national leader and advocate for health reform, will join California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Washington Governor Christine Gregoire, and White House Domestic Policy Council Director Melody Barnes at the Western Regional White House Forum on Health Reform in Los Angeles.

The overall CHW Health Security Index, which measures a wide range of perceptions about health and health care, held relatively steady compared to a year ago, and the survey contained some troubling findings:

  • For the first time more than half (51%) believe the health care system in the U.S. is getting worse
  • One in five U.S. adults (20%) have had to choose between buying medicine and paying for other necessities, like groceries or heat for their homes
  • Those who work at small businesses are less secure (HSI of 63) than at larger businesses (HSI of 70)
  • Three out of four of those closest to retirement age (50-64) are worried about the availability of Medicare
  • A strong majority of adults in the U.S. (83%) believe making health care affordable for every member of society should be one of Congress' most important issues in the coming year

The CHW Health Security Index is a composite score of public perceptions about individuals' ability to access the services they need to maintain their personal sense of health.

In addition to the national survey, supporting qualitative research was conducted to better illuminate the findings that have emerged from the national survey. In November 2008, nine interviews were conducted in Los Angeles spanning the three days following the presidential election on November 4th. These interviews, conducted among men and women who represent various points on the Health Security Index, revealed strong sentiments that the current health care system is unfair to the middle class and that health care reform is both widely expected and hoped for.