The Commonwealth Fund Health Care Opinion Leaders Survey: Assessing Congress's Policy Priorities

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Country: United States

Survey Organization: Harris Interactive, Inc.

Field Dates: January 17, 2006–February 8, 2006

Sample: Peer-nominated experts in health care policy, finance, and delivery

Sample Size: 251 (survey successfully e-mailed to 1,162 potential respondents; the response rate was 22 percent)

Interview Method: Online/E-mail

An Overview from Fund President Karen Davis (press "play" to start video)



The Commonwealth Fund Health Care Opinion Leaders Survey was conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of The Commonwealth Fund, with responses from a broad group of over 250 opinion leaders in health policy and innovators in health care delivery and finance. This was the seventh in a series of bimonthly surveys designed to highlight leaders' perspectives on the most effective and timely health policy issues facing the nation. The survey focused on health policy priorities for Congress over the next five years. Some of the questions were repeated from two previous surveys, conducted in December 2004 and February 2005.

Summary

About a year ago, we asked health care opinion leaders what they thought were the top health policy priorities facing Congress. We posed the same questions in this poll and, once again, leaders report that expanding coverage to the uninsured is unquestionably the top priority for Congress to address. This is the top priority for a large majority of leaders from academic/research institutions, health care delivery, and government/labor/advocacy, whereas leaders from business/insurance/other health care industry rank it a close second to increased use of information technology to improve the quality and safety of care, which is the second-highest priority for panelists from the other sectors. Leaders overall think that enacting reforms to moderate the rising costs of medical care for the nation needs to be the third priority on Congress's five-year to-do list.

Respondents expect that the total cost of health care as a percentage of the gross domestic product (GDP) could be held to its current level—but no better—over the next 10 years. However, they believe that a major change in the nation's number of uninsured is possible. Currently, nearly one of five U.S. residents under age 65 (18%) have no health insurance. Panelists believe that with the right policy action, however, the percentage of people without health insurance can and should be reduced to just 5 percent of the under-65 population within 10 years. Respondents from the business/insurance/other health care industry are less optimistic, citing a target of one in 10 without insurance within a decade. Leaders agree that one of the best ways to expand such coverage to the uninsured is to allow individuals and small businesses to buy into the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program or a similar federal group option. This reform was also the most popular choice of leaders in the December 2004 survey.

It is estimated that patients currently receive about half of their recommended care. While panelists disagree on many other issues—depending on the sector they represent—leaders of all sectors agree that this level of quality is not acceptable. Respondents believe that an achievable and desirable 10-year policy target is having patients receive more than three-quarters of recommended care.

When asked about the daunting task of controlling health care costs while also improving the quality of care, panelists overall responded that the best way to achieve both goals is to rely on effective use of information technology as well as incentives for efficient, high-quality providers. By comparison, leaders in the government sector were more skeptical about the use of information technology to improve care, and were instead focused on the use of evidence-based guidelines to determine whether a test or procedure should be done.

METHODOLOGY
The online survey was conducted by Harris Interactive with 251 opinion leaders in health policy and innovators in health care delivery and finance between January 17, 2006, and February 8, 2006.

The sample for this survey was developed by using a two-step process. Initially, The Commonwealth Fund and Harris Interactive jointly identified a number of experts across different industries and professional sectors with a range of perspectives, based on their affiliations and involvement in various organizations and institutions. Harris Interactive then conducted an online survey with these experts asking them to nominate others within and outside their own fields whom they consider to be leaders and innovators in health care. Based on the result of the survey and after careful review by Harris Interactive, The Commonwealth Fund, and a selected group of health care experts, the sample for this poll was created. The final list included 1,283 people.

Harris Interactive sent out individual e-mail invitations containing a password-protected link to the entire sample. Of the 1,283 e-mail invitations, 121 were returned as undeliverable. Harris Interactive determined that the undeliverable e-mail addresses appeared to be randomly distributed among the different sectors and affiliations. Data collection took place between January 17, 2006, and February 8, 2006. A total of three reminders was sent to anyone who had not responded. The response rate was 22 percent. Typically, samples of this size are associated with a sampling error of +/- 6 percent.



Health Care Opinion Leaders Survey Part I, Assessing Health Care Experts' Views on Policy Priorities

Health Care Opinion Leaders Survey Part II, Assessing Health Care Experts' Views on Health Insurance

Health Care Opinion Leaders Survey Part III, Assessing Health Care Experts' Views on Health Care Costs

Health Care Opinion Leaders Survey Part IV, Assessing Health Care Experts' Views on Medicare and Its Future

Health Care Opinion Leaders Survey Part V, Assessing Health Care Experts' Views on Medicaid and Its Future

Health Care Opinion Leaders Survey Part VI, Assessing Health Care Experts' Views on Long-Term Care

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Publication Date:
March 24, 2006