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Americans Say: Spend More On Health Care

March 10, 2011
Written by: , Filed in: Practice Management
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Americans want their government to spend more on health care.

Wait. What?

Since 1973, the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago has surveyed Americans about governmental spending priorities (sometimes every year and sometimes every two years).

The 2010 results are in. And a net 64.9 percent of those surveyed said the government should spend more on health care. (The survey derives its net scores by subtracting the “government spends too much” percentage from the “spends too little” percentage. For health, 7.9 percent said the government spends too much, and 72.8 percent said the government spends too little.)

Health care ranked second among the respondents’ “spend more” priorities, behind only education, which recorded a net score of 68.6 percent. Those categories have been among the top three since 1990, and have been the top two in the seven most recent surveys (2010, 2008, 2006, 2004, 2002, 2000, 1998).

Here’s the rest of the 2010 net scores, with a positive number indicating a “government should spend more” response and a negative score indicating “government should spend less”:

  • Assistance to the poor, 57.6
  • “Halting the rising crime rate,” 51.2
  • Social Security, 48.9
  • The environment, 48.5
  • Dealing with drug addiction, 46.0
  • Assistance for child care, 43.8
  • Drug rehabilitation, 39.1
  • Law enforcement, 36.4
  • Highways and bridges, 32.9
  • Mass transportation, 31.9
  • Scientific research, 27.9
  • Parks and recreation, 27.5
  • Solving big cities’ problems, 22.9
  • Improving the condition of blacks, 19.4
  • Assistance to blacks, 5.9
  • The military/defense, -9.2
  • Welfare, -19.2
  • Assistance to big cities, -19.2
  • Space exploration, -21.0
  • Foreign aid, -55.1

These priorities don’t seem to mesh with those of either the national or state governments at the moment, do they? For more, including a link to the full report, click here.

A separate NORC study found that 78 percent of Americans surveyed believed that electronic medical records (EMR) could improve health care and 59 percent believed EMR could reduce health costs. Other findings:

  • 72 percent supported sharing of health-care information among providers.
  • 80 percent favored e-prescribing (sending prescriptions electronically from the physician to the pharmacy).
  • 79 percent thought personal health records (accessible by consumers over the Internet) would help patients become better informed about their health.
  • 48 percent were concerned about the privacy of medical records, but 64 percent said the benefits of EMR outweigh privacy concerns.

The study results were published online earlier this year in Health Services Research.

Related seminar: The Business of Radiology

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