Most people in Massachusetts think health care costs too much—and they want the state to do something about it.
Those are the findings of a public poll conducted by a Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) research team in September. The poll was funded by the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation.
Led by Robert Blendon, senior associate dean for policy translation and leadership development and professor of health policy and political analysis in the Department of Health Policy and Management, the HSPH team questioned 1002 Massachusetts residents about their perceptions of health care costs in the state.
“People think they are being charged too much and the reasons don’t make a lot of sense to them,” Blendon told WBUR’s Common Health blog on Oct. 21, 2011. “The experts say people need to use less services and less expensive service, but the public’s diagnosis is, ‘I’m being charged too much.’”
Seventy-eight percent of poll respondents said the high cost of health care is either a crisis (25%) or a major problem (53%). An even greater overall percentage—88 percent—said it is important for the Massachusetts state government to take major action to address the rising costs.
For the most part, respondents blamed high health care costs on excessive charges by pharmaceutical firms, hospitals, and insurers, and waste and fraud in the health care system.
However, a significant percentage (63%) also acknowledged that people who don’t live a healthy lifestyle contribute to high health care costs. “It’s one of the first times we’ve seen this factor that highly ranked in polls,” Blendon told WBUR.