Survey suggests a majority of La Plata County residents want universal health care – The Durango Herald

Participants dissatisfied with private insurance and delayed seeking medical care due to costs

A La Plata County survey shows that the majority of residents want improved availability of local doctors and hospitals, as well as overall affordable healthcare coverage. (Associated Press file)

Dissatisfaction with La Plata County’s healthcare system was evident in a recent survey conducted by the Association of Women Voters in La Plata County from March to September, asking residents to provide their views and experiences with local doctors, hospitals and insurance companies.

The survey was anonymous and received a total of 546 responses from various local demographics. The majority of respondents were older in La Plata County, where about 40% had a household income of $100,000 or more.

“We’re leaning towards a slightly older group of people, and most of them are using Medicare,” said Jan Phillips, chair of the League of Women Voters’ health services Advocacy and Action Committee. “People who benefit from health services and have a slightly higher income level (responded to the questionnaire). There were so many concerns and issues that pretty much reflected the needs of our healthcare system.”

Participants with private health insurance were 65% less satisfied with their coverage than those with 70% public health insurance, such as Medicare and Medicaid. The most common complaint by private health insurers was the high insurance premium, exemption and contribution rates. Fifty-eight percent avoided seeking medical care as a result of these costs, while only 37% of public health service recipients avoided seeking medical care for cost reasons.

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As one participant said in the comments section of the survey, “There are many elective surgeries I want to do (vasectomy, knee, etc.), but the cost burden prevents me from seeking a better quality of life.”

Another participant said he avoided taking prescription drugs because of the high cost.

“I try not to buy prescription drugs because they are too expensive and don’t fit my budget,” the defendant said.

A third participant said she applied to Canada for prescription drugs.

“I get my hormone replacement drugs from a licensed Canadian pharmacy. Great! Good prices, great service, same drugs from the same companies. We’ve done this for 10 years.”

Satisfaction and availability from local doctors and hospitals were given low to moderate ratings by residents of La Plata County. The quality of local doctors and hospitals was slightly better with a high rating of 39%, but 25% of respondents still gave it a low rating. The lowest ratings were given to the eligibility and length of time to make an appointment to see local doctors. Accessibility to a full range of healthcare services in La Plata County was also a concern.

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“I think any system that guides us towards universal care is vital,” said one participant.

Another contributor pointed out the problem of eligibility with any insurance company.

“The reason my husband and I (ages 64 and 62) do not have health insurance is because we do not fit the Affordable Care Act mold and do not qualify for eligibility from independent insurance companies. We are very old, we make a lot of money and we live in the countryside.”

When asked whether health care is a human right, 87% of respondents agreed with this question, 8% remained neutral and 6% disagreed. Fewer respondents agree that healthcare should be a nonprofit sector, 73% agree and 10% disagree. However, seventy-seven percent of respondents agreed that a universal health system should be established. Eighty-two percent of respondents also believe the government should be able to negotiate drug prices for Medicare, and 65% believe Medicare should be expanded to include American citizens aged 50 and over.

One participant commented, “Most of the time, instead of going to the doctor, I wait to see which disease will improve or not.”

Phillips said the sentiments of those in La Plata County were probably not different from the rest of the county.

“There’s a feeling that we’re not that different across the country from what’s going on in healthcare,” Phillips said. “Discouraging. It’s sad, especially in the countryside.”

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Now that the League of Women Voters has a snapshot of La Plata County residents’ views and experiences with the local health system, it plans to move forward by forming a coalition of local community leaders, businesses, and other health care groups. exploring possible solutions to health problems.

“I hope the coalition will have different subgroups working in different areas,” Phillips said. “We would love for local community members to get involved and let us know what their specific needs are. We hope to be public with what we do if they want to hear what’s going on.

Phillips also encourages La Plata County residents to be involved in improving local health care.

The (responders’) comments were very meaningful and at this point we were able to find many of the specific concerns of people spanning all economic levels.” “There weren’t many people who were really happy with the way things were going right now. We would like to receive such input from the community. If there is a subject that we have not touched on and that they have difficulty with, we would like to hear it as well.”

Details and results of the survey can be found on the LWVLPC website.

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