Monday February 26 5:44 PM ET
Survey: Americans Worry About Chronic Illness
WASHINGTON (Reuters Health) - At a time when 45% of people in the US are
living with a chronic medical condition, a survey released Monday shows that
many Americans are concerned about the quality of care the chronically ill
Seventy-two percent of Americans believe people with chronic conditions have
difficulty getting necessary care from their healthcare providers, and 74%
say it is difficult for the chronically ill to obtain prescription drugs,
according to the Harris survey of 1,663 adult Americans.
The survey also found that more than three-quarters of respondents believe
it is difficult for the chronically ill to find adequate health insurance or
to get help from their own family.
The survey was sponsored by Partnership for Solutions, an initiative led by
Johns Hopkins University and The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
According to figures from 2000, 125 million Americans were living with at
least one chronic condition, such as paralysis, Alzheimer's disease (news -
web sites), mental health problems, HIV (news - web sites)/AIDS (news - web
sites) or high blood pressure.
``That's 20 million more than projected 5 years ago,'' Dr. Gerard F.
Anderson, national program director for the Partnership and professor of
health policy, management and international health at the Johns Hopkins
University's School of Public Health, said at a press conference here.
Moreover, the number of chronically ill Americans is expected to rise to 157
million--about half the US population--by 2020, Anderson said. He added that
the costs of caring for the chronically ill will jump from $500 billion in
2000 to $1 trillion, or 80% of US healthcare spending, by 2020.
``This is a wake-up call,'' Anderson said. ``Those people with chronic
conditions need a helping hand.'' The needs of the chronically ill vary,
Anderson noted, from assistance for dressing, bathing or transportation to
financial help to learning about the existence of government programs they
An ``enormous gulf'' exists between what the chronically ill need and what
is provided for them, Dr. Lewis G. Sandy, executive vice president of The
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, said. The issue ``challenges us medically,
economically and organizationally,'' he said.
The survey showed that a majority of Americans want Congress to provide
solutions to address the problems the chronically ill and their caregivers
face. According to the Harris survey, 92% of respondents favor government
funded long-term care insurance, 85% support tax relief for those buying
private long-term care insurance, 92% support a tax break for family,
friends and others who act as caregivers, and 94% favor Congress adding a
prescription drug benefit to Medicare.
Patricia / Alley