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Public Ready for Changes to Health-Care System But Unclear About Necessary Trade-Offs, Citizen Forums Suggest

NEW YORK, June 22 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Many Americans see the nation's health-care system as at or near the breaking point and no longer able to be sustained, according to new research released today by Public Agenda and the Kettering Foundation.

The report, Public Thinking about Coping with the Cost of Health Care, is based on research involving conversations with more than 1,000 citizens in deliberative forums held in 40 states and the District of Columbia. National Issues Forum, a nonpartisan nationwide network of public forums for the consideration of public policy issues, facilitated the forums to understand how citizens around the nation cope with the rising cost of healthcare.

The study shows that U.S. citizens are so concerned about the cost of health care that many worry about it daily. Their concerns, wide and varied, include:

  • being wiped out financially by a catastrophic illness,
  • losing employer-provided coverage due to a job loss,
  • keeping up with escalating co-pays and deductibles, and
  • paying for even minor medical expenses -- a problem for the nearly 50 million uninsured.

People believe that the rising costs of medical care, pharmaceuticals, and insurance pose the greatest threat to the system, the report finds. At the same time, the analysis shows that Americans have not fully explored the reasons why medical costs are rising.

Overwhelmingly those who participated in the forums clearly favored some kind of national health-care program that would ensure appropriate medical care for all citizens. But participants were uncertain how to proceed and unclear about what such a system would look like, suggesting that the public has not reached a considered public judgment about what direction reform should take.

While health-care reform is clearly an issue Americans desperately want to address, Public Thinking about Coping with the Cost of Health Care finds that more work is required to move the national dialogue forward: people need a clear set of policy choices, with inherent costs and trade-offs spelled out, and the opportunity to deliberate about those options.

Public Thinking about Coping with the Cost of Health Care and more information is available at

The organizations involved in this study are nonprofit and nonpartisan:

  • Public Agenda ( is a nonpartisan and nonprofit organization dedicated to help American leaders better understand the public's point of view and to help citizens know more about critical policy issues so they can make thoughtful, informed decisions.
  • National Issues Forums Institute ( is chartered for the purpose of promoting National Issues Forums (NIF). NIF is a network of civic, educational, and other organizations, whose common interest is to promote public deliberation.
  • Kettering Foundation ( is a research organization, focused on what it takes to make democracy work as it should.

SOURCE Public Agenda
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