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AFLAC REPORT EXAMINES GEORGIANS' VIEW OF HEALTH CARE; NUMBER OF GEORGIA'S UNINSURED MUCH HIGHER THAN EXPECTED

 AFLAC REPORT EXAMINES GEORGIANS' VIEW OF HEALTH CARE;
 NUMBER OF GEORGIA'S UNINSURED MUCH HIGHER THAN EXPECTED
 COLUMBUS, Ga., May 4 /PRNewswire/ -- An overwhelming number of Georgians think the cost of basic health care is too expensive.
 So expensive, in fact, that an estimated 900,000 Georgia residents have delayed or gone without medical treatment at some point in their lives, according to "The AFLAC Report," a survey released today.
 In addition, data strongly indicate the number of uninsured Georgians ranges from 1,420,000 to 1,778,000 -- much higher than expected.
 The AFLAC Report, a comprehensive statewide study conducted by the Survey Research Center at the University of Georgia, was commissioned by Columbus, Ga.-based AFLAC Incorporated (NYSE: AFL), the world's leading supplemental health insurer.
 Nearly 2,400 Georgia residents participated in the study, which, according to Survey Research Center Director Dr. Jack Martin, is the largest statewide survey ever conducted by the University of Georgia. With a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percent, The AFLAC Report received a 72.5 percent response rate.
 According to AFLAC Incorporated President and CEO Daniel P. Amos, the company commissioned the study to contribute to the public and institutional understanding of an issue that directly affects all individuals, all businesses and government.
 "Perhaps the most disturbing statistic in the study and the most compelling argument we have for change in the health care system is that as many as 900,000 Georgians have gone without medical treatment at some point because costs were perceived as too high.
 "It also was particularly interesting to note the most popular reform initiative to extend coverage was a market-oriented approach involving tax breaks," Amos said.
 The vast majority of those surveyed believe the Georgia health care system is in need of significant modification. Fifty-three percent indicate the system is in need of major change and an additional 23 percent believe the system should be entirely rebuilt.
 Evaluation of medical costs
 AFLAC Report respondents were asked to indicate what they felt was the most serious problem facing the U.S. health care system. By far the most common concern voiced to this open-ended question was the high cost of medical care (mentioned by 33.3 percent of Georgians polled).
 Somewhat paradoxically, however, the majority of respondents (51 percent) never discuss medical fees with health professionals in advance of receiving treatment, and nearly two-thirds have never compared the costs of medical procedures before receiving treatment.
 The AFLAC Report also examined Georgians' degree of confidence in their ability to pay for potential health care needs.
 A majority of respondents were very or somewhat confident they either have enough money or health insurance to pay for the costs of routine medical treatments for minor illness and injuries (75.2 percent), and to a lesser extent, for the costs of treating a major illness (53.5 percent).
 Only a minority of Georgia residents (35.6 percent), however, feel confident in their ability to pay for the costs of long-term care.
 Concerns with the cost of medical care do not carry over to evaluations of health insurance costs, however. The vast majority of Georgians (89 percent) are either somewhat satisfied or very satisfied with the quality of medical care provided by their health insurance.
 Opinions on cost-cutting initiatives
 To address ways to reduce health care costs, AFLAC Report respondents were asked to evaluate eight proposed cost-reduction solutions. Among the proposed solutions perceived favorably, reviewing physicians' non-emergency major treatment decisions was most popular (87.6 percent).
 Also receiving high rankings were: settling malpractice suits out-of-court (85.7 percent); providing incentives for more efficient medical services such as HMOs or PPOs (82.6 percent); developing general treatment guidelines (82.1 percent); and placing governmental limits on prices (82.1 percent).
 Somewhat less popular, but endorsed by a majority of respondents, was a national health plan (72.5 percent) and the adoption of guidelines and standards to limit the use of expensive medical technologies and procedures (62.7 percent).
 "The findings related to cost-cutting strategies show us Georgians are willing to make concessions in terms of access and legal rights," Amos said.
 Georgia's uninsured
 Of those polled, 12.5 percent were uninsured. Because uninsured respondents were more likely to be married and have, on average, 1.2 children, the data indicates the actual number of uninsured in Georgia exceeds 1 million (between 1,420,000 to 1,778,000).
 Almost all AFLAC Report respondents (90 percent) believe having as many as 1 million Georgians without health insurance represents a major problem. About 90 percent also feel the problem is serious enough to warrant governmental action, and more than three-quarters indicate a willingness to support governmental remedies even if new taxes are required.
 Fifty-nine percent of the uninsured were employed with most (66.9 percent) working in organizations with fewer than 50 employees. Nearly half (49 percent) were found in service industries.
 According to Amos: "As Georgians, we should work to provide affordable access to health insurance for the uninsured. Because the majority of the uninsured are employed, we must reduce health care coverage costs for small businesses to extend coverage. Through amendments to the tax code or other means, we can help small businesses meet the needs of their workers."
 Uninsured respondents were more likely to be black, have children living at home, be less than 40 years of age, have a high school education or less, and to earn less than $20,000 per year.
 New health care systems
 When asked to consider six proposed new health care programs designed to extend insurance coverage to the uninsured, highest support was reported for the provision of tax breaks that would make private medical insurance more affordable to employers and employees. The establishment of a national health plan received the second- highest amount of support.
 "I agree with the majority of Georgians (93.7 percent) who would like to see more of a market-oriented approach to the problems of health care. We should maintain some mix of market forces and government-supported assistance for the uninsured," Amos said.
 -0- 5/4/92
 /CONTACT: Dr. Jack Martin of the University of Georgia Survey Research Center, 404-542-6110, or Jim Overstreet or Dianne Lively of Cohn & Wolfe, 404-688-5900, for AFLAC/
 (AFL) CO: AFLAC Incorporated ST: Georgia IN: INS HEA SU:


EA-BN -- AT008 -- 6060 05/04/92 12:40 EDT
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Date:May 4, 1992
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