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Consumers Feel Better About the Economy and Health Care, Survey Finds

By CQ Staff

November 24, 2009 – A somewhat improved outlook for the economy in October also meant increased confidence in health insurance coverage and access to care, a new Robert Wood Johnson Foundation survey has found.

The foundation's Health Care Consumer Confidence Index rose to 104.4 points in October on a scale of 1 to 200 in which 200 is the highest point. That was up from 96.6 points in September, and the survey's authors said it's the highest rating since the monthly snapshot was launched in April.

The Future Health Cost Concerns Index, which measures consumer confidence about access to health care in the future due to cost, rose from 91.2 in September to 105 in October. That month also saw action in Congress on the health care overhaul.

Separately from the indexes, the foundation in October found 23.3 percent of Americans surveyed were worried about losing their health insurance coverage, a significant decrease from 34.4 percent who said they were worried in September. The percentage worried they couldn't afford future health care coverage dropped from 53.2 percent in September to 43.4 percent in October.

In addition, almost 72 percent of Americans said they think their access to care will improve or stay the same if the overhaul is enacted, fewer think their employers will drop their group coverage and fewer say they are unable to pay their health bills.

The data for the study comes from the University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers, which are monthly telephone interviews conducted by the Survey Research Center at the university. The margin of error is 4.4 percentage points and about 500 adults were surveyed.

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