70 Percent of Area Residents Want to Know More About Health Reform

KANSAS CITY, MO – Following a year of sometimes contentious debate at the federal level, 70 percent of Kansas City area residents say they need more information to determine the impact the new health reform legislation will have on them, according to a recent survey.

In July, 403 registered voters in metropolitan Kansas City on both sides of the state line were surveyed to determine local awareness and attitudes toward federal health reform legislation that passed in March. The survey was sponsored by the Health Forward Foundation, which has developed a website, www.reformreality.org, to provide information on health reform.

The local survey results mirror recent national polls that indicate Americans still do not understand key aspects of health care reform. Health Care Foundation President and CEO Steve Roling says the survey indicates that the public feels as if they have not been given enough information on health reform.

“The essence of health reform is different from many people’s current understanding of this legislation,” Roling said. “As part of our mission to provide leadership and resources on health issues that impact our community, Health Forward has developed a Reform Reality initiative to ensure that the community is familiar with the actual contents of this legislation.”

At the beginning of the phone survey, local respondents were asked their satisfaction with the current health care system. Seven percent felt there was no need for change, while 56 percent felt there should be major overhauls to the current system.

Asked specifically about their attitude on the health care legislation recently passed, 50 percent were opposed and 34 percent in favor. As respondents were asked additional survey questions about the actual components of the bill, 44 percent remained opposed, while 45 percent were in favor, with the greatest change coming from the initial undecided group.

Respondents were also asked about their knowledge of different provisions in the legislation. Most people were aware that children will now be able to remain on their parents plans until the age of 26 (77%) and that insurance companies will no long be able to deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions (76%). However, fewer were aware of key components such as tax credits for small business (59%), the creation of an insurance exchange (49%) and Medicaid expansion (47%).

“Most people are aware of the burden that will be lifted from people with pre-existing conditions and the comfort parents will now have knowing that their children will have insurance coverage as they begin their careers,” Roling said. “But only half of the respondents were aware of some of the other features that are important to understand. Components such as the Exchange and providing financial assistance to help purchase insurance, will help us create a system that, with responsible management, will move our communities toward sustainable solutions that will benefit us for years to come”

The survey also assessed the level of approval of the different aspects of the new health reform law. More than two-thirds approved of providing tax credits for small businesses (78%), providing financial assistance to low and moderate income families to purchase insurance (67%), preventing insurance companies from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions (67%) and allowing children to remain on their parents plans until the age of 26 (64%). One-third supported limits to future increases in Medicare payments to health care providers (38%) and individual mandates (33%).

“This legislation establishes the platform to help build a sustainable health system that everyone can participate in. Now that the bill has passed, the federal government is working to write the regulations to implement this legislation,” Roling said.

“As a Foundation that is dedicated to ensuring everyone has equal access to health care, we have pledged to help implement this legislation in Kansas and Missouri. Frankly, there are still many legitimate questions about health reform and its impact that will not be known for sometime, but we hope that through our ReformReality campaign, we can play a role in helping people in the region learn about the basic provisions of the new law,” Roling said.