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Health insurers may be outcharming drug makers

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The winds of public opinion could be turning in favor of health insurers and against the pharmaceutical manufacturers.

About 44 percent of U.S adults recently told survey workers they have a very or somewhat favorable opinion about health insurers, up from 40 percent in March 2008, according to analysts at the Henry J. Kaiser Foundation.

The percentage of survey participants who said they have a favorable opinion about drug companies fell to 42 percent, from 47 percent, while the percentage who said they have a very unfavorable opinion about drug companies rose to 30 percent, from 23 percent.

See also: Health cost fight boils over

Hostility toward drug companies grew even though consumers are less likely than they were in 2008 to report having trouble with paying for their own drugs, and more likely to say that drug prices seem reasonable.

The Kaiser analysts based their figures on results from a telephone survey of about 1,200 U.S. adults ages 18 and older conducted earlier this month, and a similar survey conducted in March 2008.

The survey workers also asked survey participants about possible proposals for controlling drug costs.

Support for using “market competition” to hold down costs increased to 51 percent, from 44 percent in 2008. Support for using “regulation by the federal government” fell to 40 percent, from 46 percent.

But support for specific actions the federal government could take was much stronger than support for “regulation by the federal government.”

The survey team found, for example, that 69 percent of the survey participants strongly favor requiring drug companies to post information about how they set drug prices.

Fifty-five percent strongly favor “limiting the amount drug companies can charge for high-cost drugs for illnesses like hepatitis or cancer.”

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