National Healthcare Poll

In Association with Silverlink Communications


Should People With Unhealthy Habits Pay More for Health Insurance? Americans’ Opinions Are Divided.

The Majority of Americans Are Willing to Change Health Behaviors to Save Money

May 18, 2009 (Boston, MA and Burlington, MA) – Nearly three-fourths of Americans would change their health behavior if it could save them money, according to a new survey conducted by Silverlink Communications® Inc., the leader in healthcare consumer communications. The survey was conducted in partnership with Suffolk University in Boston.

The Silverlink Personal Accountability in Healthcare survey asked Americans whether health is in a person’s own control and if health behaviors impact the country’s overall healthcare costs. Other questions probed whether people with unhealthy habits should pay more for health insurance, and what, if any, monthly savings would motivate a change in health behaviors. Finally, the survey asked if the current healthcare system should be changed.

The following insights highlight the key findings of the survey.

 In general, the majority of Americans (76%) feel that a person’s health is within their own control.

 There is also fairly widespread awareness (70% of Americans) that personal health behaviors impact the nation’s overall healthcare costs.

 However, even though Americans think they are in control and are aware of the link between health behaviors and costs, Americans are split (52% yes; 48% no) in opinion as to whether people should be held personally accountable for health choices (i.e., should those with unhealthy habits pay more for health insurance?).

 The majority (73%) of Americans are willing to change their health behavior if they could save money – one-fifth of the population for less than $100 per month.  The median savings expressed by those who are willing to change their health behaviors is $350 per month or roughly equivalent to the average U.S. monthly car payment.

 Several interesting insights emerge when the data is cut by demographic variables, perceived health status and by health insurance type.

   o As people report better health status, they increasingly believe in personal accountability in healthcare.

   o People with good, very good, or excellent health believe that a person’s health is within their control more readily than those with fair  or poor health.

   o Americans with higher incomes and education levels are more likely to believe that their personal health behavior impacts our country’s overall healthcare costs.

   o Those who purchase individual health insurance policies are more in favor of personal accountability in healthcare than people with other types of health insurance coverage.  This is perhaps due to the fact that the individually insured are more cognizant of the full cost of healthcare. The uninsured are the group least likely to believe in personal accountability in healthcare.

   o People living in the Northeast and the West are more likely to believe that our country’s healthcare system needs to change vs. those in the Midwest and South.

“Our survey reveals a widespread recognition of the connection between health behaviors and the unsustainable costs in our healthcare system,” says Stan Nowak, CEO and co-founder of Silverlink Communications. “Treatment of preventable conditions accounts for as much as 70% of our $2.4 trillion annual healthcare spend. As we consider broad-based healthcare reform, now is the time to build personal accountability into the reform process.”

David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center, said: “This pilot partnership creates an opportunity for Suffolk University to offer its research expertise on a critical national issue – healthcare. When Suffolk polled Massachusetts residents in 2007, they overwhelmingly supported change as the Commonwealth embarked on a program of mandated universal healthcare.  Now, the Obama Administration grapples with the same issue on the national level.”

HealthPulse Survey Methodology

The Personal Accountability in Healthcare survey is the first in a series of HealthPulse surveys to be conducted in partnership by Suffolk University and Silverlink Communications.  Data was collected on April 30, May 1, and May 2, 2009, from 1,541 adults across the United States. The sample was drawn from a list of 50,000 U.S. citizens. The survey data is weighted to be representative of the U.S. adult population as described in the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2008 Current Population Survey. This research continues the ongoing pursuit of healthcare consumer insights by Suffolk University and Silverlink Communications.

The 95% confidence interval for overall results is no more than 2.5% in either direction from what would have been obtained by polling all American adults.  For smaller subgroups, the margin of sampling error is larger.  In addition to sampling error, the practical difficulties of conducting any survey of public opinion may introduce other sources of error into the poll.

About Silverlink

Silverlink knows the healthcare consumer – and we know every point of contact offers a chance to impact their behavior.

Our solutions are trusted by 80 of the nation’s largest and most influential health plans, pharmacy benefit managers, and population health companies to build stronger relationships with consumers and dramatically lower costs.

Silverlink’s unique approach combines real-time consumer interactions, behavioral insights and process innovation to unlock the value that consumers represent in healthcare’s complex cost equation.  To learn more about what makes Silverlink the leader in healthcare consumer communications, please visit, email, or call 1.781.425.5700.

About Suffolk University

Suffolk University, located on Boston’s historic Beacon Hill, with campuses in Madrid and Dakar, Senegal (Africa), is a comprehensive global institution distinguished by its teaching and the intellectual contributions of its faculty. Suffolk offers a wide range of undergraduate and graduate programs in more than 70 areas of study.  Its mission is to provide quality education at a reasonable cost for students of all ages and backgrounds, with strong emphasis on diversity.

Silverlink is a registered trademark of Silverlink Communications Inc.  All other brand and product names contained in this release may be trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective holders

Marginals/Cross Tabs

Marginals/Cross Tabs (PDF)