Here's to Your (Cheaper) Health Care

It is beginning to look a lot like Canada as far as Americans' opinions about health-care reform and their prescription shopping habits. According to a report released Wednesday by Results For America, two out of three American adults surveyed think that health-care coverage should be guaranteed, as it is in Canada, Britain, and other nations. In fact, one in three adults using prescription medications is planning to buy -- or is already buying -- cheaper drugs from up North.

The study, "Americans & Health Care Reform: How Access and Affordability Are Shaping Views," was conducted Sept. 2 to 5 by Opinion Research Corporation on behalf of Results For America (RFA), a project of the nonprofit and nonpartisan Civil Society Institute. More than 1,000 U.S. adults were asked to comment on everything from their own coverage to general industry reform.

Pollsters found that half of Americans surveyed have had their coverage reduced or premiums raised and that 13% now pay more out of pocket for less generous insurance protection. As a result, many are adopting unhealthy cost-cutting measures, such as skipping daily doses or reducing the amount of medicine they take in order to stretch their pill supply.

For many, that's one dangerous bitter pill.

There is a positive outcome of the crisis: It's bringing Americans politically closer together.

Half of conservatives, 62% of moderates, and 72% of liberals say they would support government controls on hospital costs. Even among conservatives, there are high levels of support for restrictions on drug company advertising and profits. And 71% of conservatives surveyed support requirements for state permission before insurance companies can raise premiums.

One thing's for sure: If things continue to go as they have (over the past 25 years, health-care costs have grown more than twice as fast as overall inflation), many Americans will be priced out of the doctor's office. Start saving now by using cost-cutting measures such as flexible spending accounts and that cheap blood pressure reader at the grocery store.

Here are nine more ways to cut health costs without having to take a trip to Canada. And here are 12 ways to reduce your tab at the pharmacy.

For full survey results, see www.ResultsForAmerica.org.


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