A new national survey paid for by VHA, a not-for-profit hospital alliance, says consumers are aware of ownership differences among hospitals, and they prefer not-for-profit facilities to for-profit facilities.
"The public ownership debate is going on in so many parts of the country it has made people more aware and more attuned to this," said Daniel Bourque, VHA's senior vice president of corporate and public affairs in Washington. "We didn't do a before and after, but the study shows there's more of a recognition of who owns hospitals than we may be willing to give the public credit."
VHA hired Market Strategies of Southfield, Mich., to conduct the poll of about 1,000 consumers in the 100 largest metropolitan markets. VHA declined to disclose the cost of the survey. Its executives worked collaboratively with Market Strategies to design the questionnaire.
The survey found that 65% of the respondents prefer not-for-profit hospitals compared with 16% who prefer investor-owned facilities. Some 19% expressed no preference.
The results mirror survey findings by the Kaiser Family Foundation, which tracks public perceptions of the healthcare industry.
And according to Kaiser's latest survey, released last month, Americans' perceptions of for-profit healthcare are becoming more negative.
The Menlo Park, Calif.-based foundation said 47% of Americans think for-profit healthcare is a "bad thing." That's up from 45% in August and 42% in March. Only 15% of Americans think for-profit healthcare is a "good thing" in the latest survey compared with 21% in August and 20% in March.