In light of the health care reform debate taking place on the Hill, the Independent Women’s Forum commissioned a study to explore women’s attitudes on this crucial issue. Women are responsible for the health decisions of their families, in many cases taking care of children, spouses, and elderly parents. They are consumers of health care, both personally and professionally, as employees and small business owners. Accordingly, women’s voices must be heard before crafting legislation that will fundamentally alter the delivery and cost of health care in America.
The results of the survey are posted on the website at http://www.iwf.org/news/show/22253.html and are publicly available for all to see.
As President and CEO of the Independent Women’s Forum, I would like to share some of the most significant findings from the survey, so that you may take these opinions into consideration in your deliberations on the issue of health care reform.
Some key results from our poll:
•No need for speed: 43% percent of women say that Congress and the President should enact health care reform “only when quality legislation is developed, even if it means there is no deadline.” Less than three in ten think it needs to happen by the end of 2009.
•Government is not the solution: 64% percent of women would “rather have private health insurance than a government-run health insurance plan” because they think the private sector delivers more value. 61% of women think the private sector does a better job of providing choice in health care. 48% think the private sector is better at offering “lower costs while ensuring high quality.”
•Change for thee, but not for me: Three out of four women want few to no changes to their own health care. 66% say that they think about health care reform more for other people than for themselves.
•A public option is not appealing: 57% percent wouldn’t trade their coverage for a government-run healthcare plan, and 62% disagree with the statement “a federally-run health care program is what is best for my family and me.”
There is broad bipartisan support for changing the tax treatment of health insurance so that buyers in the individual market will receive the same tax advantages that consumers receive from employer-sponsored plans. Part-time workers, the majority of whom are female, are particularly impacted by such a proposal. Addressing existing waste, fraud, and abuse in the Medicare and Medicaid programs is also in great demand, as is medical malpractice reform.
Other proposals, such as health savings accounts, which would provide consumers with more control over their health care spending, are options to be considered.
A number of studies have found that competition can also be enhanced and encouraged if health insurance could be purchased across state lines. See “How to Create a Competitive Insurance Market” by Devon Herrick of the National Center for Policy Analysis at http://www.ncpa.org/pub/ba558 for more information.
Many states have established high-risk pools for other kinds of insurance coverage, such as workers compensation, and states could be encouraged to do the same as a means of ascertaining new and innovative ways to expand coverage to those who cannot now afford it. Medicare/ Medicaid vouchers are another idea offered by experts to cover those truly in need.
In sum, rushing to adopt legislation by a manufactured deadline is not something favored by American women, as demonstrated by our survey. Take the time to consider thoughtfully the many ideas and proposals that could lower costs, increase competition and expand coverage for all Americans, without sacrificing the high quality medical care that Americans have come to expect.
We are pleased to provide additional information regarding this survey, as well as to direct your office to a myriad of think tanks, organizations, and studies offering ideas and solutions to improve the nation’s health care and coverage. Please contact us if you are interested in further information or if you have questions.
Thank you for your consideration.
Michelle D. Bernard
President and CEO