Polls Show Impact of Rising Costs on Health of Elders
Almost six in 10 people age 65 or older in the United States (58%) reported paying more for healthcare in the last year, according to The Wall Street Journal Online-Harris Interactive HealthCare Poll conducted in December. The survey of 2,438 U.S. adults found that out-of-pocket healthcare costs went up for 52% of respondents.
The study report stated that "consumers blame the increased medical costs on higher prescription drug costs (74% for all U.S. adults, and 89% for those ages 65 and over), higher hospital fees (61% and 76%); and escalating medical malpractice and insurance costs (61% and 71%).
A significant finding, the report said, was that the mean increase in costs for those who claimed to be paying more for prescription drugs in 2002 was 37% higher for all adults in the sample. For those 65 and older, the rise was 25%, "a marked increase for this age group, who are large consumers of prescription drugs and other medical services," the survey noted.
The study added, "The public's perception that prescription price increases are a major cost driver reflects the fact that drug copays have been rising rapidly while consumers are shielded from other expenses via insurance and benefit plans. These data also suggest that more political pressure will be placed on Congress to do something about higher healthcare costs." A summary of this poll is available online at www.harrisinteractive. com/news/newscats.asp?NewsID=554.
A separate Harris Poll of bolo adults age 18 or older conducted by telephone in November found that "as a direct result of the high out-of-pocket cost ot drugs, many millions of people do not ask doctors for the prescriptions they need, do not fill the prescriptions they are given, use lower doses of drugs than those prescribed and take their drugs less often than they should. …