Press release: new survey shows Illinoisans experiencing health care affordability crisis

SPRINGFIELD– A majority of Illinoisans have difficulty affording health care and prescription drugs according to a new Consumer Healthcare Experience State Survey (CHESS) commissioned in January 2020 by Protect Our Care Illinois and Altarum’s Healthcare Value Hub, with the support of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The survey found that over half (56 percent) of Illinois adults experienced healthcare affordability burdens in the past year and four out of five (81 percent) are worried about affording healthcare in the future. For most respondents, addressing the high cost of healthcare is their top priority for policymakers and, across party lines, they express strong support for government-led solutions.

The survey results were announced today in Springfield by Lynn Quincy, Director of the Healthcare Value Hub. She was joined by State Rep. Will Guzzardi, Senator Andy Manar and advocates from Protect Our Care Illinois. The legislators also unveiled new legislation to tackle some of the issues raised in the poll, including a new state board that would review data on drug prices and set new payment limits for state-regulated plans.

“This new consumer health survey confirms what we have known for a while: people in Illinois are being crushed by the cost of health care and prescription drugs and they are looking to state government to address this huge issue. We have to do something now to provide relief to Illinois families,” said Rep. Will Guzzardi, D-Chicago who chairs the House Prescription Drug Affordability and Accessibility Committee. “When it comes to tackling drug costs, 86 percent of survey respondents endorsed the creation of Prescription Drug Affordability Board to examine the evidence and establish acceptable costs for drugs– and I’m committed to bringing that type of oversight to Illinois.”

“These findings signal the degree to which the prescription drug industry is failing to serve the health of patients, while those responsible face zero consequence,” said Senator Andy Manar, D-48. “It puts the onus on every legislator to be a part of a solution that delivers serious transparency and accountability to an industry besieged by profiteering and exploitation of working families.”

CHESS is designed to elicit respondents’ unbiased views on a wide range of health system issues, including confidence using the health system, financial burden and views on fixes that might be needed. The survey used a web panel from Dynata, January 9 – January 17, 2020, resulting in a demographically balanced sample of approximately 1,047 adults 18 and older who live in Illinois. More information about methodology can be found in the report.

“Our current prescription drug pricing system is broken and, as it operates today, cannot deliver medications that all Illinoisans can afford. Prescription drugs don’t work if you can’t afford them,” said Logan Charlesworth, Protect Our Care Illinois coalition manager. “We need to allow Illinoisans to focus on getting healthy rather than allowing them to dangle on the precipice of health and financial ruin because they cannot afford their medications.”

Additional key findings include:

  • Nearly half (49 percent) of adults who needed health care in the prior 12-months encountered one or more cost-related barriers to getting the care they needed.
  • Over half (54 percent) of all survey respondents reported being either “worried” or “very worried” about affording the cost of prescription drugs. More than a quarter of respondents (28 percent) cited cost concerns as the driving factor for not filling a prescription or cutting pills in half.
  • Of the adults sampled in the survey, those who live in Greater Illinois (outside of Cook and the Collar Counties) experienced the highest healthcare affordability burden (59 percent) compared to the rest of the state.
  • Over one-third (35 percent) of Cook County adults got the care they needed but struggled to pay the resulting medical bill and 12 percent were unable to pay for necessities like food, heat, or housing.

Protect Our Care Illinois calls on the Governor and legislator leaders in the General Assembly to make health care affordability a priority during this legislative session.

To read the reports, visit:

Learn more about the Prescription Drug Affordability Board here.


About Protect Our Care Illinois

Protect Our Care Illinois is a statewide coalition of health care advocates, providers, consumers, and workers, joining together to prevent the repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), prevent disastrous changes to Medicaid, and protect and expand access to quality affordable health care.