The economic crisis of 2009 coupled with spiraling health care costs has made health care reform an imperative issue. This is particularly true in Illinois where the rate of unemployment, at 9.1% in March 2009, has increased every month since December 2007, and over 1.7 million residents are without health care coverage. As unemployment rises, more residents will lose their employer-based health care coverage and be among the uninsured or turn to Medicaid, which is already the second largest expenditure for Illinois and the country.
The debate over health care reform will be a top issue among legislators in 2009. As the Illinois Legislature grapples with how to achieve affordable and accessible health care coverage, AARP’s Illinois State Office commissioned a survey to understand members’ concerns about the future of health care, current experiences managing health care expenses, and their support for specific ways to improve and expand access to health care coverage. This mail survey of 753 AARP members finds that:
- AARP Illinois members are open to change in the problematic health care system. Most agree that health care in Illinois is in a state of crisis or has major problems, yet members are worried about being without health care, if a new health care system fails, or paying more in a new system than their current plan.
- Illinois members believe that all State residents should have access to health care. Eighty-seven percent agree that all Illinois residents should have access to basic health care. About eight in ten believe it is extremely or very important for Illinois to make health care more affordable and to reduce the number of uninsured residents.
- AARP Illinois members are concerned about the affordability of health care. Four in five members are concerned about having to pay more for their health care coverage, and two-thirds are worried about not being able to afford the health care services they think they need.
- AARP Illinois members support health care reform proposals that promote accessibility and coverage for all residents. At least three in four members support proposals that would require employers to either provide health insurance to full-time workers or pay into a state fund that would provide coverage, and expand the state government health insurance program to provide coverage for more people.
Two random samples—417 AARP members in Illinois and 336 likely Hispanic members in Cook, DuPage, Lake, Will, Kane, Grundy, and McHenry counties—completed mail surveys between October 31 and December 1, 2008. Responses were weighted to reflect the distribution of AARP members in Illinois. For more information, contact Joanne Binette at 202-434-6303. (39 pages)
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