Pennsylvania Poll Shows Patients’ Access about the Same or Better, But Increased Out-of-Pocket Costs

 A poll of 700 Pennsylvanians age 21 and older suggests patients are able to schedule appointments with doctors easily, but their out-of-pocket expenses appear to be growing compared to a year ago.

The Pennsylvania Patient Poll asked residents across the state to answer questions about access to care and the cost of care. The poll consisted of live and automated interviews.

Here are some highlights from the results:

  • 97 percent indicated they have health insurance.
  • 14 percent said it was more difficult to get an appointment this year compared to a year ago, 71 percent said it was about the same, and 11 percent said it was easier.
  • 37 percent noticed an increase in out-of-pocket health care expenses, 53 percent believe it is about the same, and 8 percent saw a reduction in costs.

“We are doing fairly well at the current time in meeting consumer demand for care,” said Dennis Olmstead, chief medical economist at the Pennsylvania Medical Society (PAMED) in a recent press release, noting that rising out-of-pocket expenses have been a deterrent in seeking a usual source of care with Pennsylvania physicians.

“Most people purchase a Bronze or Silver plan in the Marketplace where there is a 40 or 30 percent out-of-pocket expense,” said Mr. Olmstead, while offering a possible explanation why 37 percent say they’re paying more out-of-pocket today than a year ago. “Collecting these huge out-of-pocket expenses has also increased physician administrative expenses, so it can be a double whammy,” he said.

As part of our eight principles of health system reform, PAMED has long supported the principle that health care coverage should be available and affordable to all Pennsylvanians, and that it should reduce administrative costs and improve efficiency.

The Pennsylvania Poll was commissioned by PAMED and conducted by Susquehanna Polling and Research.