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Video: Just What the Doctor Ordered: Survey Shows Americans Adopting Healthier Lifestyles

Tightening economy serving as tipping point for behavior change

DES MOINES, Iowa, Oct. 10 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- More than half of Americans (51 percent) believe there are good things about the current health care system, but major changes are needed, according to the 2008 EBRI Health Confidence Survey. The survey was released today by the Employee Benefit Research Institute and Mathew Greenwald and Associates Inc., and was underwritten by the Principal Financial Group(R).

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"The economic crisis is serving as 'the tipping point' in terms of how Americans are changing behavior concerning their health care," said Jerry Ripperger, national practice leader of consumer health at the Principal Financial Group. "We've finally reached a place where more Americans are focusing on making smarter health care decisions, and taking more personal responsibility that will improve their health and ease the strain on their wallets."

The survey indicates that Americans are showing some level of personal responsibility through heightened awareness and action. Two out of five Americans (39 percent) report they are often or always aware of the cost of their doctor's visit. For example, those Americans who have experienced higher health care costs over the last year:

-- Tried to take better care of themselves (76 percent)

-- Chose generic drugs more often (74 percent)

-- Talked to the doctor more carefully about treatment options and costs

(63 percent)

Goals for reform: quality, affordable and accessible

The survey indicates that when it comes to reforming the nation's health care system, Americans said it is "extremely" important to make health care coverage affordable (63 percent), provide quality health care (63 percent), and provide health insurance coverage to all Americans (55 percent).

In order to ensure that all Americans have access to health insurance, those surveyed "strongly supported":

-- Expanding government programs, such as Medicare or Medicaid (43 percent)

-- Requiring all employers to pay toward subsidized health insurance for

employees (41 percent)

-- Requiring everyone to participate in some kind of health insurance plan

(37 percent)

-- Providing tax breaks to help people pay for coverage they purchase on

their own (54 percent) and to help people pay for employer coverage (48


-- Allowing those who are uninsured to buy into government programs, like

Medicare and Medicaid (48 percent)

-- Allowing those who are uninsured to buy the health insurance coverage

offered to government employees (37 percent)

Migrating to new infrastructure

The survey also indicated that Americans are beginning to show support for health care infrastructure that provides more transparency:

-- More than half of Americans (55 percent) say it's important for

providers to use electronic medical records, and four out of five say

these records should be stored in a central location so that their

health information could be shared by all health care providers they

authorize to use it.

-- More than half (56 percent) of Americans say the total cost of the

doctor or hospital would be "extremely" or "very"

important when choosing a provider through an objective rating system

(if the quality ratings were about equal).

Full results of the 2008 EBRI Health Confidence Survey are published in the October issue of EBRI Notes, which is available on EBRI's Web site at

About the EBRI Health Confidence Survey

The 2008 Health Confidence Survey was conducted within the United States May 24 - June 30, 2008, through 20 minute telephone interviews with individuals age 21 and older. The margin of error is plus or minus 4 percentage points. All questions are available on the EBRI Web site, EBRI is a private, nonprofit organization committed exclusively to data dissemination and education on economic security and employee benefits; it does not lobby or take positions on legislation.

About the Principal Financial Group

The Principal Financial Group(R) (The Principal(R) )(1) is a leader in offering businesses, individuals and institutional clients a wide range of financial products and services, including retirement and investment services, life and health insurance, and banking through its diverse family of financial services companies. A member of the Fortune 500, the Principal Financial Group has $308.0 billion in assets under management(2) and serves some 19.0 million customers worldwide from offices in Asia, Australia, Europe, Latin America and the United States. Principal Financial Group, Inc. is traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol PFG. For more information, visit

(1) "The Principal Financial Group" and "The Principal" are registered service marks of Principal Financial Services, Inc., a member of the Principal Financial Group.

(2) As of June 30, 2008

SOURCE The Principal Financial Group
Copyright©2008 PR Newswire.
All rights reserved

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