THE BOTTOM LINE

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  • Americans have a low opinion of the health-care system. In a 2001 Kaiser/Harvard poll, only oil companies rated worse in terms of how various industries served their customers. Fifty-two percent said oil companies did a bad job, versus 46 percent who said the same of HMOs and managed-health-care plans. And this was before the Enron debacle.
  • Managed health care plays better as a political issue than it does as a personal one. Consumers seem to have higher opinions of their own health-care plans than they do of the system as a whole.
  • Despite insurers' intentions, most people do not believe that managed health care has made their lives more manageable. In fact, according to a 2001 Harris Interactive poll, only 32 percent of the public — down from 42 percent in 1996 — believes that managed care will make their health plans more responsive to them as consumers.
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