Survey: Americans satisfied with primary care physicians, but worried about cost

More than 90 percent of patients reported satisfaction with their primary care physician across several categories in a new survey. However, many also communicated concern regarding healthcare costs and medical debt.

The survey was commissioned by the Physicians Foundation — a nonprofit organization seeking to empower physicians to take the lead on delivering high-quality, cost-efficient healthcare — and conducted by Harris Poll.

The survey was comprised of 1,511 adult patients between the ages of 27 and 75 who had seen the same physician twice in the same year. According to the results, 95 percent of participants reported being satisfied with their physician's ability to communicate medical information intelligibly, 96 percent reported feeling respected by their physician, 93 percent reported satisfaction with how well their physician listened to them and 92 percent conveyed satisfaction regarding their physician's knowledge of their medical history.

"The preservation of the physician-patient relationship is fundamental to the success of our healthcare system, and it is heartening to learn that more than nine out of 10 patients are highly satisfied with their primary care physician," said Walker Ray, MD, president of the Physicians Foundation.

Though patients reported exceptionally high satisfaction regarding their primary care physicians, they also reported high levels of anxiety regarding the cost of care. The survey also found that these fiscal anxieties were hindering patient adherence to recommended care protocols.

According to the survey, 62 percent of participants reported concern regarding their ability to pay for medical care if they were to fall ill or become injured. More than a quarter — 28 percent — reported skipping a medical test, missing a follow-up appointment or not seeking treatment for a medical problem in the last 12 months due to insecurities regarding the cost of care.

Dr. Ray added, "Affordability of care has unquestionable impact on access. The responses we saw in our survey regarding non- or partial-compliance with care plans due to financial pressures must be a red flag for everyone invested in improving patient care. It is incumbent upon the entire healthcare community to ensure patients have access to quality healthcare services that they feel they can actually afford. Otherwise outcomes suffer."

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