A majority of Texas voters are fed up with a lack of transparency by some medical providers and support new laws that would protect consumers from price-gouging, according to a recent statewide poll.
The poll, conducted in November 2018 by Baselice & Associates using accepted statistical methods, assessed voter support for the creation and enforcement of state laws that would protect Texans from pricing gouging by free-standing emergency rooms. The poll results also revealed the desire for charge transparency by freestanding ERs, hospitals and other medical providers.
The results showed that a majority of Texas voters interviewed are fed up with a lack of transparency on medical charges by some providers:
- 97% of Texas voters believe patients should be told upfront, before being treated, the amounts charged for medical tests and procedures, how much they will be responsible for paying out of their own pocket, and how much will be covered by insurance.
- 95% of Texas voters want greater transparency from FSERs.
- 94% believe there should be a fee schedule posted by hospitals and freestanding ERs so they know prices before they are treated.
- A majority of Texas voters, nearly 60%, do not believe that out-of-network doctors are underpaid.
The poll results also showed that Texan voters are so frustrated with the problem that they overwhelmingly support protecting patients and going after price-gougers who are taking advantage of Texans during personal medical emergencies. The poll showed that:
- 9 out of 10 Texans believe the Texas attorney general should have the authority to go after bad actors who price-gouge Texans in emergency medical situations.
- 71% of Texas voters favor putting state laws in place that set or cap prices that doctors, facilities and other medical providers can charge to keep prices in line with what the government pays for those same services.
- In the Dallas-Fort Worth area, 92% of voters interviewed favor an anti-price-gouging proposal, while 91% of Houstonians favor it. (The numbers were roughly even between self-identified Republicans and Democrats.)
- Regionally, the highest rate of favorability for giving the attorney general the authority to prosecute offenders was in the San Antonio/South/El Paso region at 93%.
- Among age groups, voters ages 45-54 had the highest rate of favorability (92%) for giving the attorney general that authority.
Furthermore, 95% of voters polled agreed with that "freestanding ERs should be more transparent about what they are going to charge for medical services and procedures."
A total of 94% believe "there should be fee schedules that hospital ERs and FSERs follow so that patients know something about the likely medical charges before they are treated."
And 91% believe "insurance companies should report to the Texas attorney general situations in which they witness price-gouging."
The largest concentrations of voters interviewed for the poll were in the Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston metro areas, 30% and 25%, respectively. Overall, 61% of interviews were conducted in urban areas, and 39% were in rural areas.
In addition, 56% of voters interviewed were self-identified as Anglo, 20% were self-identified as Hispanic and 13% were self-identified as African American. A total of 33% of voters interviewed were ages 18-44, while 27% were 65 or older.