Survey Finds Confusion Over Patients’ Rights Proposals
By Allison Bell
Consumers may accept a federal “patients rights” law that would include weak health plan liability provisions, according to a survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health.
Forty-eight percent of the consumers under age 65 who were interviewed for the survey said they had experienced problems with their health plans in the past year, and 4% said they experienced problems that had seriously hurt their health.
Eighty-one percent want Congress to pass a “patients bill of rights,” up from 74% in April 1999.
But only 16% of the consumers said Congress should give health plan members the right to sue plans for compensation for economic losses, pain and suffering, and punitive damages.
Eighty percent said consumers should only be able to sue for full compensation for economic losses, and limited compensation for pain and suffering.
Other survey results suggest the liability issue “has gotten to be too difficult for people to understand,” said Robert Blendon, a Harvard health policy professor who worked on the survey.
Consumers appear to be so confused about liability that Democrats could probably compromise on it without getting any flak from consumers, Blendon said.
Princeton Survey Research Associations, Princeton, N.J., interviewed 1,205 adults over age 18 for the survey in July and August.