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Health insurance companies rank highest in distrust

In a recent Harris poll, health insurance providers ranked highest among entities in the healthcare industry in public distrust.  Consumers rank insurers as one the most untrustworthy providers, putting them at the bottom of the barrel.

59% of adult survey respondents say that their general trust for insurance companies is either “not much” or “not at all”, while 29% say that their own trust level of their insurance company is “not much” or “not at all”.   

The nationwide poll of 2,343 U.S. adults was conducted in January of 2004 by Harris Interactive on behalf of The Wall Street Journal Online’s Health Industry edition. 

For individual providers, nurses edged out doctors as being ranked lowest in public distrust.

Humphrey Taylor, chairman of The Harris Poll says, “the most striking poll results relate to insurers and pharmaceuticals.”  Taylor cited the result that only 7% of survey respondents indicated they mistrust the prescriptions they take compared to 41% who distrust the pharmaceutical companies who produce them.  “Fully 59% do not trust health insurers in general, but only 29% do not trust their own insurer,” Taylor continued.

Respondents were asked how much they trust the following to do the right thing for you and your health care

A lot

Some

Not Much

Not at all

Not sure

Not applicable

Your doctor or doctors

%

63

26

4

1

2

3

Nurses who treat you

%

60

29

3

1

1

6

Your dentist

%

58

29

3

1

3

7

The pharmacy or pharmacies that you use

%

50

36

6

2

2

4

The last hospital where you were treated

%

47

33

7

4

2

7

The prescription drugs you take

%

44

36

5

2

2

12

Your employer

%

16

29

17

8

2

27

Your health insurer

%

15

35

25

12

4

9

Your managed care company

%

9

25

19

10

4

33

For its part, the new head of the pharmaceutical industry's trade association has said

the industry needs to recapture the trust of the American public.

That doesn't mean the industry will change its opposition to such popular initiatives as allowing drugs to be imported from other countries or letting the government negotiate lower prices for the new Medicare prescription drug benefit.

What it does mean, said Billy Tauzin, president of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, is the industry will support other ways to help Americans pay for their medicines.

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