Sept. 17, 2018 — University of Houston Law Center Professor Jessica Mantel joined health care experts to discuss findings of a national survey showing that the top priorities of health care consumers are cutting costs and making insurance coverage more affordable.
"It's not surprising cost and affordability were the top concerns," Mantel said after participating Sept. 12 in a discussion of the fourth annual survey conducted by the Texas Medical Center Health Policy Institute. "With more and more people facing high deductibles, many are seeing their out-of-pocket costs rising.
"Part of the reason for high costs is how the health care system is utilized and pays for care," said Mantel, George A. Butler Legal Research Professor and co-director of the Law Center's Health Law & Policy Institute. "In the U.S., patients and health care providers favor the latest medical innovation, which often costs more than other treatment options. Market competition also has done little to hold down prices. We pay substantially higher prices for health care than do other countries where prices are regulated or negotiated by the government."
The majority of those surveyed nationally, and in Texas, supported Medicare for all adults and expansion of Medicaid to provide coverage to more low-income people. Texas and 16 other states have rejected Medicaid expansion. While Mantel thinks Texas eventually will expand Medicaid, she is less optimistic about Medicare for all.
"I don't think the Democrats have the stomach for Medicare for all after the backlash over the Affordable Care Act," Mantel said. But, she added, there may be the political will to take incremental steps in that direction, such as lowering the eligibility age for Medicare or allowing individuals under age 65 to buy into Medicare.
Titled "The Nation's Pulse," the survey questioned more than 5,000 participants throughout the country, including more than 1,000 in Texas. In addition to questions about government programs and the personal effects of higher health care costs, participants were asked their opinions on issues ranging from imposing higher taxes on "fat foods" to fight obesity and raising the age limit for buying tobacco products to how candidates' positions on health care policy might sway their votes in upcoming elections.