A new consumer poll by the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions found that 41 percent of consumers believe health reform will help foster economic recovery in the United States, while one out of four (25 percent) believe it will have a negative effect.

Additionally, 38 percent of consumers are not at all knowledgeable about the components of the new health reform law; 64 percent give the current health care system a grade of “C” or below, and 67 percent think fraud has a major influence on driving up the overall cost of health care.

“Since 2008, we have surveyed consumers about their assessment of the U.S. health care system,” said Paul Keckley, executive director of the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions. “Consumers remain mixed in their assessment of the system’s performance, concerned about costs, and supportive of changes that improve its value.”

Demonstrating the difference in opinions based on the age of respondents, nearly 80 percent of younger adults aged 18-24 years old think health reform will actually have a positive effect on economic recovery. In contrast, only 30 percent of adults aged 55-64 years old and 34 percent of adults 65 years old and older think it will have a positive effect.

“Our survey findings indicate that the views of respondents are dramatically different based on age,” added Keckley. “Younger adults tend to be more optimistic about the impact of health reform, while older adults tend to be more skeptical.”

The cost of health care continues to be an issue for many. More than one-third (36 percent) of consumers say they are financially prepared to handle future health care costs, compared with 17 percent who say they are unprepared. Only 5 percent of young adults aged 18-24 years old say they are financially unprepared, likely because under the new health reform bill, they can remain on their parents’ coverage until they reach the age of 26. Consumers think health insurance company costs (70 percent), hospital costs (69 percent), and prescription drugs (61 percent) are major influences on driving overall health care system costs.

“When it comes to what consumers pay for health insurance, 37 percent believe that more than 20 percent of their premium dollars is a reasonable amount to cover insurance plan overhead costs, reflecting their understanding of administrative costs associated with their operation,” Keckley said.

Eliminating waste, fraud, and abuse in the system

Forty-three percent of consumers think health reform will have help eliminate waste, fraud, or abuse of the health care system, while 21 percent think it will have a negative effect. Fifty-five percent of younger adults (18-24 and 25-34 years old) think it will have a positive effect, while more than one out of four of those 65 years old and older (29 percent) think it will have a negative effect.

Reducing costs of health care

Forty-five percent of consumers think health reform will help reduce health insurance costs, while 30 percent think it will have a negative effect. Sixty-nine percent of younger consumers aged 18-24 years old and 52 percent of consumers aged 24-35 years old think it will have a positive effect, while 41 percent of consumers aged 55-64 years old and 39 percent of consumers 65 years old and older think it will have a negative effect. Forty-three percent of respondents think that health reform could have a positive effect on reducing the costs of health care in hospitals and for doctors, while 29 percent think it will have a negative effect. Sixty-eight percent of younger consumers aged 18-24 years old and fifty-two percent of consumers aged 25-34 years old think it will have a positive impact, while 40 percent of adults 65 years old and older think it will have a negative effect.

Reducing costs of prescription drugs

Forty-five percent of consumers think health reform will have a positive effect on reducing the costs of prescription drugs, while 25 percent think it will have a negative effect. Sixty-four percent of 18 to 24 year-olds think it will have a positive effect, while 30 percent of those 65 years old and older think it will have a negative effect.

Increasing access for the uninsured

More than half (59 percent) of consumers think health reform will have a positive effect on increasing access to affordable health insurance for the uninsured, while one out of five (20 percent) think it will have a negative effect. Seventy-one percent of the younger population (18 to 24 years old) think that health reform will positively affect this issue, while 28 percent of those 65 and older think it will have a negative effect.

Living healthier lives

Sixty-five percent of consumers believe that unhealthy lifestyles that can lead to obesity can have a major influence on driving overall health care system costs. Nearly half of consumers (49 percent) think health reform will encourage consumers to live healthier lives, while 16 percent think it will negatively affect healthier living. Sixty-five percent of younger adults (18-24 years old) think it will have a positive effect, while 22 percent of older respondents 55-64 years old and 21 percent of respondents 65 years old and older think it will have a negative effect.

Source: Deloitte