By CASEY QUINLAN, HELEN HASKELL, BILL ADAMS, JOHN JAMES, ROBERT R. SCULLY, and POPPY ARFORD

Last year, the Patient Council of the Right Care Alliance conducted a survey in which over 1,000 Americans answered questions about what worried them most about their healthcare. We asked questions about access to care, concerns about misdiagnosis, and risks of treatment, which we reported on in our last THCB piece about the What Worries You Most survey.

We also asked people to rank their concerns about the costs of their care, in five questions that covered cost of care, cost of prescription drugs, cost and availability of insurance, and surprise billing. In the time since we ran the survey, everything has changed in American healthcare. The COVID19 pandemic is filling emergency rooms wherever the epidemic arrives. Bills are likely to be high, for both patients and insurers, and it is still far from clear how they will be paid. Americans are likely to continue to worry deeply about healthcare costs, with good reason, since it’s only in America that someone can go bankrupt due to seeking medical care.

Below are the questions we asked, and some commentary on how survey sentiment might be impacted by the COVID19 pandemic:

1. I can’t afford my care if I become ill or injured. Sixty-six percent of our survey respondents said they were very or somewhat worried about affording care if they got sick, or were hurt. Even if you have “good insurance,” usually an employer sponsored plan through work, you may have a high deductible or a narrow network of providers, leading to those pesky surprise bills. If you have insurance through the Affordable Care Act insurance exchanges, your situation is likely to be worse: your networks may be extremely limited and your  total out-of-pocket payments can be as much as

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