Union-sponsored online health care polls may not be gold-standard random-sample surveys but they can sure shed some interesting light on how ready Americans are to address the cost and quality challenges in the health care system. The AFL-CIO and Working America sponsored just such a poll and more than 26,000 people took the time to vent. And they were the "haves," not the "have-nots" — most were insured, employed, and college-educated. About two-thirds voiced displeasure with health care quality. A full 95 percent said the system needed "fundamental change" or a complete overhaul.
As we've been known to point out ourselves, cost is a huge problem. One in three respondents reported skipping medical care because of cost. One in four had serious problems paying for needed care.
For the uninsured, the picture was predictably bleaker. In the past year, 76 percent of people who lack insurance themselves and 71 percent of people with uninsured children say someone in their family did not visit a doctor when sick because of cost. More than half had to choose between paying for medical care or drugs and such other essential needs as rent or utilities.
Most reported health care as a key component in the economic challenges facing working families. Almost half of those who answered the poll (48 percent) said they or a family member has stayed in a job to keep health care benefits when they would have preferred changing jobs. The "job lock" rate was higher for Latinos, at 60 percent.
The AFL-CIO also invited people to submit their personal health care stories. Here is one they featured from a woman named Dorene in Veneta, OR:
"I worked for a manufacturer for over 15 years. My wages stayed the same for over 6 years as I found myself paying more and more for health care. Co-pays went up, deductible went up, and the last year I worked there, I was paying a portion of the premium. In late 2006 the company sent my production job to Mexico and China and I was laid off. I could not afford COBRA premiums. I am 2 years away from Medicare and unemployed and on the Faith Based health care system: I pray I don't get sick. Oh yeah, I'm a cancer survivor and I haven't done the yearly checkup in 3 years."
Oh, one more thing -- almost all of those who responded said they planned on voting in November.