What do Texans say are their most important health policy priorities?

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By Robiel Abraha & Emily Dean
EHF Research Associates

Texas continues to lead the nation in the number of uninsured people and the percentage of the population without health insurance. A recent report by Georgetown University’s Center for Children & Families found that Texas saw a significant increase in the rate of uninsured children in 2017. In fact, the report found that one in five uninsured U.S. children lives in Texas.

Not having health insurance coverage causes many Texans to avoid treatments necessary to prevent or manage health problems and makes them vulnerable to medical debt. This gap was a key finding in EHF’s statewide Texas Health Policy Survey conducted with the Kaiser Family Foundation earlier this year.

The survey found that despite Texas having the highest uninsured rate in the country for the last few years, most Texans are not aware of it. The Texas Health Policy Survey found that only 31% of Texans correctly knew that the Texas uninsured rate was higher than other states.

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When it comes to affordability, over half of Texas residents said it’s difficult for their family to afford healthcare. About four in 10 Texans said they have had problems paying medical bills in the past year. Six in 10 said someone in their household has postponed or skipped medical care in the past year because of cost.

Our survey found that health is a critical policy priority for Texans. In fact, two-thirds of Texans reported they think the state government should play a major role in making the healthcare system work well, and 64% said that they think the state is not doing enough to help low-income adults get the healthcare they need.

Another important takeaway from the Texas Health Policy Survey is that Texans provided a ranking of their top health policy priorities, and the following four topics rose to the top:

1)   Lowering the cost of healthcare and prescription drugs

2)   Reducing maternal mortality

3)   Improving access to health insurance

4)   Providing funding for mental health

Finally, the survey showed a high level of support for state action to expand coverage to low-income adults in Texas, including through Medicaid.

Health policy is clearly a major priority for Texans. With the start of the state’s new legislative session next month, we encourage Texans to remain informed on the health issues facing our communities.

For more detailed information on Texans’ views on health policy and their experiences with the healthcare system, click here to read the latest Texas Health Policy Survey reports.