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LOUIS HARRIS SURVEY SHOWS ROCHESTER, N.Y. LEADS NATION IN HEALTH CARE ACCESS AND SATISFACTION WITH LOSER COSTS TO RESIDENTS

 LOUIS HARRIS SURVEY SHOWS ROCHESTER, N.Y. LEADS NATION
 IN HEALTH CARE ACCESS AND SATISFACTION WITH LOSER COSTS TO RESIDENTS
 ROCHESTER, N.Y., Aug. 25 /PRNewswire/ -- Rochester area residents have better access to health care, express greater satisfaction with the health care they receive and pay less of their own money for it than Americans do nationally, a new Louis Harris study reports.
 The Harris study, which surveyed 1,000 residents and 300 employers in the area, was commissioned by Blue Cross Blue Shield of the Rochester area as a benchmark to be measured against a parallel national study conducted earlier in the year by Louis Harris and Associates. The Rochester study highlighted these findings:
 -- 84 percent area residents express satisfaction with the health care they receive, compared with 71 percent who express similar sentiments nationwide.
 -- Only 6 percent of Rochester area residents report that they are currently without health insurance, compared with 14 percent nationally.
 -- Rochester area residents report median out of pocket health care expenses of $102 in the past 12 months -- 65 percent less than the $290 median reported in the national study.
 "Rochester surpasses the national norm on health care access, and is clearly 'doing something right,'" the study said.
 "Local studies have always shown that Rochester's health care system works well, but it's been difficult to gauge exactly how we rate in comparison to the rest of the country," Howard Berman, president of Blue Cross Blue Shield of the Rochester Area, said.
 "By conducting a local survey that directly parallels a national study using the same questionnaire and the same research company, we now have a valid measurement of Rochester's health care performance in relation to the nation as a whole," he said.
 One nationally respected health care expert, Robert J. Blendon, of the Harvard School of Public Health, said the survey "shows that there are broad lessons which can be learned from Rochester's successes."
 "These findings suggest that the policies behind the Rochester area's successful health care system performance should be examined more closely by others as the debate over health care reform moves forward in the 1990s," he said.
 The Harris study cited Rochester's health care system as a "model" and singled out several key elements it said "merit the attention of national policymakers."
 Foremost among these was a high level of cooperation among employers, providers, third party payers and government, as well as strong community planning and a commitment to a system of community rated health insurance policies -- where all employees pay the same rate for equal coverage, regardless of their age or health status.
 Regional health planning has enabled Rochester to avoid building excess capacity into its health system, and community rating has helped make health insurance more affordable to small groups and individuals.
 Rochester business and community leaders have endorse the study's findings.
 "The Harris survey confirms what the Rochester business community has known for a long time," said Thomas T. Mooney, president of the Greater Rochester Metro Chamber of Commerce. "It supports the fact that the Rochester health care system provides quality care at an affordable cost."
 At Eastman Kodak Company, Senior Vice President Jack McCarthy also voiced support for the study's findings.
 "As a major employer, Eastman Kodak closely monitors the cost and quality of the health care our employees receive," McCarthy said. "With facilities both in Rochester and other areas of the country, we clearly recognize the success of Rochester's health care system."
 "Based on the success of the Rochester experience, we believe that community rating and community health planning should be encouraged and that incentives for them should be provided to every community in the country. It is clear that these approaches are delivering high health care quality in the Rochester area," he said.
 Although Rochester-area residents and businesses express greater satisfaction with health care services than their counterparts do nationally, they also believe that "fundamental changes" are needed in the nation's health care system. Both residents and employers, however, remain wary of having the government take over the health care system. Like adults surveyed nationally, Rochester area residents do not yet express a consensus on the basic shape the national health care change should take.
 "We don need to further improve our medical care delivery and accessibility for the future, but we mustn't sacrifice quality when we consider changes," said Philip P. Bonanni, M.D., president of the Monroe County Medical Society. "This community does not need all the modifications that most of the country is talking about because we have benefited from many of them already."
 The Harris report generally corroborates the findings of a field hearing conducted in Rochester by the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Government Operations.
 At that hearing, U.S. Comptroller General Charles Bowsher gave high marks to the Rochester health care system and indicated that the U.S. General Accounting Office would conduct a study of Rochester's experiences.
 "The Rochester community appears to have been more successful than most in controlling the twin problems of rapidly rising costs and constricting access to health insurance," Bowsher said. "Health insurance premiums in Rochester are about two-thirds the national average even though per capita health care expenditures in the state of New York are among the highest in the nation."
 -0- 8/25/92
 /CONTACT: Philip J. Puchalski, director, corporate communications of Blue Cross Blue Shield, 716-238-4367; or Debra Lesser or Kathy Herring of Harry Levine Associates, 212-593-9111, for the Harris study/ CO: Blue Cross Blue Shield of the Rochester Area ST: New York IN: HEA SU: ECO


TS-LR -- NY021 -- 2965 08/25/92 10:58 EDT
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Date:Aug 25, 1992
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