WASHINGTON, DC -- An overwhelming majority of Americans worry that the 125 million people living with chronic conditions in the United States are often not getting the care they need and are calling on Washington to take action, according to a Harris Interactive survey released today at the launch of Partnership for Solutions. The Partnership is an initiative to raise awareness of the challenges faced by children and adults with chronic conditions and help policymakers identify possible solutions.
The Harris Interactive survey of 1,663 adult Americans reveals real concern among Americans about the quality of care people with chronic conditions are receiving:
- 72% of Americans say it is difficult for people living with chronic conditions to get necessary care from their health care providers
- 74% say it's difficult to obtain prescription drug medications
- 89% say it's difficult to find adequate health insurance
- 78% say it's difficult to get help from their own family
"People with chronic conditions rely most heavily on the health care system—they see the most doctors, fill the most prescriptions and need the most care, yet we're not meeting their needs," said Gerard Anderson, Ph.D., director of Partnership for Solutions. "This is a wake-up call for America. People with chronic conditions need help."
Chronic conditions affect people of all ages and range from paralysis, Alzheimer's disease, mental disorders and HIV/AIDS to allergies, asthma, diabetes and high blood pressure. Many with chronic conditions require care from multiple physicians, take a variety of medications and need the assistance of professional or family caregivers.
Two-thirds of Americans who do not have a chronic condition also believe that they are likely to develop a chronic condition—and many worry that when the time comes, they will be unable to afford needed medical care, will lose their independence and will become a burden to their families.
In addition, the survey also revealed that people with chronic conditions and their caregivers face constant challenges in receiving care. Based on the number of adult Americans with chronic conditions and the results of the Harris Interactive survey, the Partnership found that:
- 10% of those surveyed report that in the last year they were not able to see a primary care physician when they felt it was necessary. Based on the nationally representative sample, this percentage represents an estimated 10 million Americans.
- 11% of those surveyed (which translates on the national level to an estimated 11 million Americans) report that in the past year they were not able to see a specialist physician.
- 22% of those who have insurance report that it does not cover all the types of care they need. This percentage represents an estimated 21 million Americans with chronic conditions.
- 45% of those surveyed (which translates to an estimated 47 million people) feel that the costs of their care are a financial burden.
- 14% of those surveyed report that different doctors diagnosed them with varied medical problems for the same set of symptoms in the past year. This percentage represents an estimated 14 million Americans with chronic conditions.
- 17% of those surveyed (which translates to an estimated 17 million people) say they have received contradictory information from health professionals.
- 16% surveyed (which translates to an estimated 16 million people) have been warned by a pharmacist about a possibly harmful interaction between medications they were prescribed by one or more physicians.
The survey also found, on average, that family caregivers provide care for their loved one for 4.5 years, with the unpaid help of four friends or family members.
"I spend an extraordinary amount of time dealing with obstacles in the health care system, when I could and should be spending more time with my daughter," said Crystal Jackson of Leesburg, Virginia whose daughter Devin has diabetes.
By 2020, the number of people living with chronic conditions is expected to rise to 157 million and direct medical costs are expected to double to more than $1 trillion (80% of the nation's health care spending). The overwhelming majority of Americans surveyed want Congress to find solutions:
- 92% are in favor of government funded long-term care insurance
- 85% support a tax break for people who purchase private long-term care insurance
- 92% support a tax break for caregivers
- 94% favor adding a prescription drug benefit to the Medicare program
To address the problems faced by people with chronic conditions and their caregivers—and to help policymakers explore potential solutions—the Partnership for Solutions is bringing together leading organizations representing children, the elderly, various disease-specific organizations and health care professionals with the goal of improving the day-to-day lives of people with chronic conditions. The Partnership is led by Johns Hopkins University and The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
"Americans grappling with Alzheimer's disease, cancer, or depression and their loved ones have many problems in common. These challenges include high costs, inadequate insurance coverage—including difficulty getting reimbursed—and an often confusing health care system that makes it difficult to obtain thoughtful and coordinated care. By addressing these and other problems, millions of Americans with chronic conditions and their loved ones will benefit," said Lewis G. Sandy, MD, executive vice president of The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. "While the Partnership for Solutions does not endorse a specific approach to improving the delivery and financing of care for people with chronic health conditions, it is committed to fostering a national discussion about a wide array of private and public solutions."
Partnership for Solutions will focus on improving care and enhancing the quality of life for people with chronic conditions. The Partnership will explore how businesses are improving care for their chronically ill employees and dependents. It will also focus on improving both private health insurance coverage and government funded programs, including Medicare and Medicaid. The Partnership plans to release research findings on a wide array of topics, including the health benefits packages offered by the Fortune 100 companies, the attitudes of physicians who care for those with chronic conditions, the cost and prevalence of chronic conditions, and out-of-pocket expenditures related to chronic conditions.
Joining Johns Hopkins University and The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in the effort are a consortium of partners: Alzheimer's Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Diabetes Association, American Geriatrics Society, Family Voices, National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, and the National Chronic Care Consortium.
"We plan to work with these partners to ensure that we improve the quality of care and life for the growing number of Americans with chronic conditions," said Anderson.
Chronic Illness and Caregiving was conducted by Harris Interactive Inc. on behalf of The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Johns Hopkins University, and Partnership for Solutions. The survey was conducted from March 17, 2000 through November 22, 2000 with a total of 1,663 adults 18 years of age and older. This study included a national cross-section of 1,490 adults, with an additional oversample of persons with a chronic illness and adults who provide informal caregiving services, for a total of 663 chronically ill and 320 caregivers. The survey was conducted from the centralized telephone research centers of Harris Interactive Inc. in Youngstown, Ohio and Binghamton, New York.
The survey data were weighted to reflect the demographic composition of the U.S. population to the following variables: age, education, race/ethnicity, insurance status, household size, and number of telephone lines in a household, using the March 1999 Current Population Survey from the U.S. Census Bureau. Additionally, the data were weighted to adjust for the oversample of the chronically ill and caregivers.
About Harris Interactive
Harris Interactive (Nasdaq: HPOL), the global leader in online market research, uses Internet-based and traditional methodologies to provide its clients with information about the views, experiences, behaviors and attitudes of people worldwide. Known for its Harris Poll, Harris Interactive has 45 years of experience in providing its clients with market research and polling services including custom, multi-client and service bureau research, as well as customer relationship management services. Through its U.S. and Global Network offices, Harris Interactive conducts research around the world, in multiple, localized languages. Harris Interactive uses its proprietary technology to survey its database of more than 7 million online panelists. For more information about Harris Interactive, please visit our website at www.harrisinteractive.com . EOE M/F/D/V