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Americans Still Unhappy with Health-Care System

The only people who may think they see a light at the end of the health-care tunnel in the U.S. may be self-employed workers. That’s because the just-passed Senate Small Business Jobs Bill will let them fully deduct the cost of their health insurance from their self-employment taxes for 2010. Pretty much everyone else thinks the system is broken, a recent survey finds.

Dissatisfaction with the American health-care system remains widespread despite passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (PPACA), according to the “2010 Health Confidence Survey (HCS)” released by the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI)and Matthew Greenwald & Associates, a market research company.

It’s not the quality of health care or health plans that is causing the dissatisfaction. Almost 60 percent of Americans say they are extremely or very satisfied with the quality of medical care they have received and a majority also give their health insurance company high marks.

It’s the system itself, meaning the cost of health care and its availability, that bears the brunt of criticism. A majority of Americans rate the health care system as either poor (27 percent) or fair (31 percent), the survey found.

Since health reform was enacted  in March, the effect of the PPACA has yet to be felt. But confidence in the future availability of employment-based health benefits may have been affected by the passage of health reform, with fewer individuals confident that this coverage will be available in the future, the survey said. Researchers found that most Americans do not know when the legislation takes full effect.

“It is still too early to determine how the health-reform law is being received, but we do know Americans have been and continue to be unhappy with the nation’s health-care system,” EBRI’s Paul Fronstin said. “But people do see the law as detrimental to employment-based health coverage, which is where most Americans currently obtain their health insurance coverage.”

Ned Smith

Ned was senior writer at Sweeney Vesty, an international consulting firm, and was Vice President of communications for iQuest Analytics. Before that, he has been a web editor and managed the Internet and intranet sites for Citizens Communications. He began his journalism career as a police reporter with the Roanoke (Va.) Times, and was managing editor of American Way magazine and senior editor of Us. He was a Captain in the U.S. Air Force and has a masters in journalism from the University of Arizona.