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Achieving Affordable, Quality Health Care in Puerto Rico: A Survey of Residents Age 25+

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Currently, about 40 percent of Puerto Rico's residents depend on Reforma de Salud, the territory's public health insurance program, for their health care. As in many states, in light of the current economic crisis, state health insurance programs are increasingly unable to provide adequate health care for their beneficiaries. In November 2008, AARP commissioned a telephone survey among 801 randomly selected Puerto Rico residents ages 25 and older to examine their opinions about and experiences with health care in Puerto Rico and to gauge their support for ways to improve the current health care system.

The survey found that Puerto Rico residents believe changes are needed to the current health care system and that the Governor and Legislature must enact reforms in 2009 that will provide access to affordable, quality health care for all Puerto Ricans in need. Specifically the survey found that:

  • Forty-one percent of Puerto Rico residents age 25+ polled believe that health care in Puerto Rico is in a state of crisis, and another 34 percent say it has major problems.
  • Sixty-three percent say their out-of-pocket medical expenses, including insurance premiums, prescription drug costs, and co-pays, have increased over the past five years.
  • Ninety-one percent of respondents say that the rising cost of health care is a major problem. Further, 91 percent say they are extremely or very worried about being financially devastated because of the high costs of health care services.
  • Ninety-one percent of respondents believe it is extremely or very important that the 2009 Legislature work to improve and expand access to affordable, quality health care coverage for residents.
  • Puerto Rico residents polled believe the following are important ways to improve and expand access to health care coverage:
    • Offering diet, exercise, and medication management programs, and incentives to help people with on-going medical conditions effectively manage their conditions (83% extremely/very important).
    • Establishing a central information source that would allow residents to compare the quality of health care providers (63% extremely/very important).
    • Creating incentives for hospitals to build Centro de Salud to serve people currently using emergency rooms for non-urgent care (81% strongly/somewhat support).
    • Requiring health insurance companies to offer lower rates to individuals who practice healthy lifestyles (66% strongly/somewhat support).
  • Puerto Rico residents polled show far less support for allowing doctors and other health care providers to share patient medical records electronically than they do for the other health care reforms tested in the survey (37 percent support and 51 percent oppose).

AARP commissioned Multiple Research, Inc. to conduct the telephone survey with a random sample of 801 Puerto Rico residents aged 25 and older during November 11-30, 2008. For further information, contact Joanne Binette at 202-434-6303. (32 pages)

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