SEATTLE – The COVID-19 pandemic has put into sharp focus the quality of health care for Washingtonians. According to a new poll, more than three quarters of Washington voters believe the amount they pay for health care every year is going up.
Ian Stewart – principal at EMC Research in Seattle, which helped conduct the poll – said cost is a barrier, noting that 60% have struggled to pay for a medical bill, even with health insurance.
“No surprise,” said Stewart. “Expense is a big concern, and we know this because voters have faced these expenses repeatedly. They see costs of health care rising and there’s also a surprising number of people who have experienced challenges with paying their bills.”
Stewart noted that Washingtonians also are very concerned about junk plans that don’t cover much care. Eighty-seven percent of respondents say insurance companies shouldn’t be allowed to sell them.
He said there is also interest in capping profits for private insurance companies, even among a majority of Republican voters in the state. The poll was conducted last month by ALG Research and EMC Research on behalf of Consumers for Quality Care.
Surveys also conducted this year on behalf of Consumers for Quality Care underscore the role the pandemic has played in shaping voters’ opinions of the health-care system.
Jim Manley, a board member at Consumers for Quality Care, said the polling shows more than eight in ten Americans believe COVID-19 has exposed flaws in the health-care system.
“Obviously, the pandemic is driving a lot of health-care-related issues,” said Manley. “But I think it’s pretty clear that especially in the wake of the COVID pandemic, voters want to make sure that their insurance is affordable and protects them, especially if they have preexisting conditions.”
Manley added that voters nationally say they want elected officials to support legislation that keeps insurance deductibles low enough so they don’t get in the way of receiving quality care. Ninety-two percent of voters in Washington state agree.
Featured Photo: Nearly three-quarters of Washingtonians say they’re at least somewhat concerned about a surprise medical bill. (Valeri Luzina/Adobe Stock)