Health plans rank just above tobacco companies in the hearts of business executives and professionals, according to a study released last week.
Given the bills businesses pay, that's not surprising. Cable-television companies and long-distance phone companies aren't favorites either.
The study was conducted by Roper Starch Worldwide for the marketing communications firm of Siegel & Gale, New York. The roughly 300 respondents-middle and top management from a cross section of U.S. businesses-were asked to rate 25 industries.
They weren't queried on their view of providers or the healthcare profession in general. Alan Siegel, head of Siegel & Gale, argued that many respondents probably think poorly of the entire healthcare industry if they don't respect their own health plans.
The rising cost of healthcare was listed as the third-most-pressing of 23 problems facing the nation. Lawlessness and the breakdown of the American family came first and second, respectively.
Almost three-fourths of executives surveyed believe the government needs to mount a "major effort" to control healthcare costs.
Siegel & Gale, a proponent of plain language in business communications, also asked executives about their understanding of healthcare terms. More than 60% of respondents don't know or have only a rough idea of what "COBRA health insurance" describes. The term refers to the 1985 federal Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, which permits workers to extend employer-sponsored health insurance after leaving their jobs.
The least-understood term was "individual/family breakpoint," with 72% of respondents uncertain of its meaning. "Breakpoint" is the spending cut-off at which a health plan begins paying a greater portion of healthcare bills, say 90% instead of 80%.