New Research Highlights Concern Among Washington Voters Over Rising Health Care Costs

By Consumers for Quality Care, on July 27, 2022

New Research Highlights Concern Among Washington Voters Over Rising Health Care Costs

For Immediate Release
July 27, 2022


New Research Highlights Concern Among Washington Voters Over Rising Health Care Costs


66% of Washington Voters Say the Costs of Health Care are Going up More than Other Things They Need


Olympia, Washington – A new survey of Washington voters from Impact Research and EMC Research, on behalf of Consumers for Quality Care (CQC), reveals voters see high out-of-pocket costs as the biggest issue in the state’s health care system. Washingtonians are ready to support politicians who make lowering out-of-pocket costs a priority. Read more about the survey here.

“Washington families with insurance are being hit with high health care costs that cause people to avoid seeking the health care they need in fear of the unpredictability of what they will need to pay out of pocket,” said the Hon. Donna Christensen, CQC board member, physician, and former Member of Congress. “The high costs are why so many patients are plagued with thousands of dollars in medical debt that often goes into collections. It’s time for insurance to act like insurance and for our lawmakers to prioritize lowering costs and improving access to quality care.”

Washingtonians’ number one concern when it comes to health care is that out-of-pocket costs are too high. Deductibles are the costs that people struggle with the most, followed by monthly premiums. Ninety percent of Washington voters believe it is more important now than ever that insurance cover mental health care, but nearly two-thirds (64%) think it is difficult to find mental health providers that are affordable or covered by insurance.

More insights from the research include:

  • 66% agree that the costs of health care are going up more than other things they need.
  • By more than a 2-to-1 margin, voters’ main concern in health care is that out-of-pocket costs are too high (32%).
  • The vast majority of voters (84%) think there are problems with the state’s health care.
  • Deductibles are the biggest specific pain point when it comes to cost (34%), especially for those with private insurance (43%).
  • A majority of voters (53%) have either had their household finances seriously affected by medical debt or are close with someone who has.
  • Among voters that have had their finances affected, 72% say they’ve had medical bills go into collections, including 69% of voters of color and 86% of voters in households with lower incomes or that are struggling to pay their bills.

Washingtonians want their elected officials to take action to lower out-of-pocket health care costs. More than 7-in-10 voters (73%) say they are more likely to support a candidate who makes reducing health care costs their top priority, including strong majorities of persuadable voters (68%) and Independents (62%).

When it comes to lowering health care costs, Washington voters think the following measures would be effective:

  • Requiring health insurers and pharmacy benefit managers to pass the rebates or discounts they receive from drug companies on to patients (78%).
  • Capping the amount health insurers can charge patients overall (76%).
  • Capping insurance deductibles at a level that is low enough that people don’t go into debt when getting the health care they need (68%).

Washington voters also support policies that increase access to health care, including:

  • Prohibiting surprise billing (89%).
  • Requiring hospitals to provide services to people who purchase the Washington State public health insurance plan (86% support).
  • Allowing Washington State to pass along savings from reduced insurance premiums on to public option insurance subscribers (77% think is important).

“It is remarkable how many ways Washington voters have directly experienced rising costs and that’s particularly true with health care,“ said Ian Stewart, Principal at EMC Research. “They think health care costs are rising even faster than necessities, they feel like insurance companies are nickel and diming them, they find it impossible to predict how much out of pocket costs will be. These problems are so widespread that more than half of voters have skipped or delayed getting care because of concern about out-of-pocket costs. The good news is, the vast majority of Washington voters support a range of thoughtful fixes that lawmakers could tackle, and they are willing to support candidates who make these reforms a priority.”

The Impact Research/EMC Research poll on behalf of CQC was conducted June 22-26, 2022. The online survey sampled 602 registered voters in Washington. Overall results were weighted to reflect the composition of registered voters in the state.


About Consumers for Quality Care

Consumers for Quality Care (CQC) is a coalition of advocates and former policymakers working to provide a voice for patients in the health care debate as they demand better care. CQC is led by a board of directors that includes the Honorable Donna Christensen, physician and former Member of Congress; Jim Manley, former senior advisor to Senators Edward Kennedy and Harry Reid; Jason Resendez, community advocate and health care strategist; and Mary L. Smith, former CEO of Indian Health Service.