According to a survey of Illinois adults conducted from January 9 to January 17, 2020, over half (55%) of residents in Cook County faced high healthcare affordability burdens — experiencing one or more of the following issues within the prior 12 months.
1) Being Uninsured Due to High Premium Costs
2) Delaying or Forgoing Healthcare Due to Cost
Almost half (48%) of adults in Cook County encountered one or more cost-related barriers to getting healthcare in the prior 12 months, including:
Fewer residents reported difficulty in accessing addiction treatment. Moreover, cost was by far the most frequently cited reason for not getting needed medical care, exceeding a host of other barriers like transportation, difficulty getting an appointment, lack of childcare, and other reasons.
3) Struggling to Pay Medical Bills
Other times, Illinoisans got the care they needed but then struggled to pay the resulting bill. In the prior 12 months, about one-third (35%) of Cook County adults experienced one or more of these struggles to pay their medical bills:
Residents of Cook County also reported high levels of worry about affording healthcare in the future. About eight in ten (82%) of respondents reported being "worried" or "very worried" about one or more of these topics: affording nursing home and home care services (65%); costs when elderly (63%); cost of a serious illness or accident (63%); health insurance becoming too expensive (61%); prescription drug costs (55%); cost of needed dental care (54%) and losing health insurance (42%).
Residents of Cook County were extremely dissatisfied with the health system. Just 31% agreed or strongly agreed with the statement “We have a great health care system in the U.S.,” while 72% agreed or strongly agreed with “the system needs to change.”
Respondents do see a role for themselves in solving problems. They reported actions they have already taken, like researching the cost of a drug beforehand (64%), as well as actions they should be taking—63% believe that taking better care of their personal health is one of the top things they can do personally to address affordability.
But in far greater numbers they saw a role for their elected representatives. Examples of strategies that received support across party lines included (Total/Republican/Democrat/Neither):
The high burden of healthcare affordability along with high levels of support for change suggest that elected leaders and other stakeholders need to make addressing the cost of healthcare a top priority. Annual surveys can help assess whether or not progress is being made.
Note: For survey methodology and state-wide data, see https://healthcarevaluehub.org/Illinois-2020-Healthcare-Survey/