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ZEUS poll, B.C.health care poll (2009), ZEUS poll
  Jul 06, 2009

A B.C. Health Care poll conducted by Sce Research for the benefit of ZEUS polls. 3,780 respondents. This poll was conducted June 17-29, 2009. This poll has a margin of error of (1%), 19 times out of 20, at 95% confidence/competency.

Question #1
The BC Liberal government is faced with a fiscal deficit ranging from $450 million to $2 billion dollars. BC’s health ministry uses more taxpayer dollars than any other. In your opinion are changes to BC’s health care system necessary in order to make health care more efficient and services better?
Yes    58 %
No    37 %
Question #2
In your opinion should the B.C. government—B.C. Taxpayer representatives--- be paying for up to 90% of medical doctor’s and surgeon’s liability insurance estimated to cost B.C. taxpayers $25 million dollars per year?
Yes    41 %
No    55.5 %
Question #3
From your own personal experience or from related stories from family or friends experiences- how would you rate B.C.’s health care system?
Good    44 %
Not Very Good    26.5 %
No particular experience or stories to relate to    30 %
Question #4
In your opinion should income be a factor in determining access to B.C.’ health care system?
Yes    27 %
No    58 %
Question #5
Have you registered as a patient at an emergency facility in a B.C. hospital within the past year?
Yes    12.5 %
No    86 %
Question #6
(Only respondents who answered “yes” (454) to question #5). From the limited choices offered which one BEST characterizes the level of treatment that you received while you attended a B.C. hospital emergency?
Good    52 %
Not Very Good    35 %
Question #7
Which of the following limited choices offered is the best determinate of what in your opinion is the most important qualifying factor for receiving B.C. health care?
Need    47 %
Capacity to Pay    08 %
Level of Danger to Life/Limb    44 %
Question #8
U.S. President Barack Obama has embarked on a highly ambitious plan to fix the United States health care system. In your opinion can he pull it off?
Yes    51 %
No    44 %
Commentary
observations:
Question #1 was designed as a baseline question to (a) present to respondent’s-- potential discrepancies in British Columbia’s budget-- suggesting in fact that it may be higher than expected, and to (b) ensure respondents are reminded of the amount of dollars the health care system uses-- as a general description. Respondents are asked if “changes to B.C.’s health care system- (are) necessary in order to make health care more efficient and services better?”
Our question #1 links the assumption of more efficient health care with better services. Often in mainstream political discourse, greater efficiency is linked to cuts to services.
The vast majority of respondents in this ZEUS—health Care Poll accepts that “changes” – to the B.C. health care system- are “necessary”. These changes are necessary to make the health care system “more efficient” and services “better”.
We interpret the word “efficient” to mean either cost cutting measures within the system-job cuts or a slow down on equipment purchases and other technologies-- OR better use of existing dollars. I would guess than many (but certainly not all) British Columbians are of the opinion “there is a lot of waste in the (health care) system.” The majority of respondents support “better” services, suggesting existing services may not be good enough—or perhaps expectations are rising or alternatively the level and quality of service is declining in B.C.’s Health care system. (It is unlikely that respondents would support worse services)! Anecdotally, we believe some respondents who answered “No” are stopping at the word change, because they interpret that “you shouldn’t get better health care because you have more money.”
In our question #2, one respondent, a woman aged 23, supported taxpayer payment of doctors liability insurance (from question #2) on the basis that she “wants the best for her grandparents---they deserve the best in health care---so yeah---I support paying the doctors the money—we need them.” This reflects the attitude of many young respondents, few admitting to using emergency in the past year—that money should be spent on the elderly—particularly family---“whatever it takes.”
Even though the majority of respondents did not support paying for doctor’s/surgeons liability insurance, it was a difficult thing for many to respond “No” to because of the general reverence doctors receive from the public. This sentiment was reflected well in the (21-30) age group where (54%) (Decided) answered “Yes”.
Question #2 surprised many respondents---we asked it ‘tough’—including the message that these were taxpayer dollars---many respondents taking their time to deliberate over their answer. We used the doctor/surgeon scenario in order to provide one example of spending that we presumed most respondents would be unfamiliar with (or) even surprised by-- involving doctors/surgeons arrangement with government. The majority decided that these dollars should not be spent in this way. One respondent aged 67 mirrored older respondents that “doctors make enough money to pay their own insurance.” Those male respondents over 60 answered “Yes” to question #2 only (29%) of the time (Decided).
The age group of (40-50) was less inclined to answer “Yes” to doctor’s surgeons (39%) (Decided) while men age (50-55) were more inclined toward “Yes” (51%) (Decided).
Question #3 provoked some respondents to relate personal experiences—or to potentially discuss hearsay stories from ‘family or friends hospital experiences’. This general ‘perception’ question reveals (62%) of (Decided) respondents conclude that they have a positive ‘rating’ of BC’s health care system. This question sent out a purposefully confusing message—‘you either have had an experience or you have heard of experiences from others’—but in the end we ultimately ask respondents to ‘rate’ B.C.’s health care system. We achieved what we expected, those respondents who either did not have an experience—hadn’t heard of any—or for any reason did not want to select either one of the remaining two questions—were distilled out from the main ‘decided’ group. This question also helped to set up our later question on emergency room service (question #6).
Question #6 narrows our inquiry to those respondents (475 + - 5%) who say they have used emergency facilities in the past year. The outcome to this question has a really interesting twist to its sister question (#3).
When we asked question #3—“From your own personal experience or from related stories from family or friends experiences relating to hospital care how you would rate B.C.’s health care system?”----- (44%) of overall respondents indicate their personal or vicarious experience as (“Good”), while (30%) did not have an opinion. When we asked from question #6 --------- “From the limited choices offered below which one BEST characterizes the level of treatment that you received while you attended a B.C. hospital emergency,” (52%) answered “Good”.
The number of respondents who answered “Not Very Good” (35%) in question #6 is higher than the number who answered “Not Very Good” in question #3 (26.5%). Basically speaking, the emergency room area—some of the toughest work anywhere in the system-- produces the same positives as the general perception of the system.
Anecdotally St. Paul’s hospital in the city centre of Vancouver, British Columbia received many positive comments.
Question #4 “In your opinion should income be a factor in determining access to B.C.’ health care system?” (28%) of decided respondents thought it should be. This question is interesting when you compare it to a particular result from question #7 “Which of the following limited choices offered is the best determinate of what in your opinion is the most important factor for receiving health care”? Only (08%) answered “capacity to pay”.
After grossing this number up due to response difference in either question-//‘capacity to pay’ is selected by one half the total number of respondents who selected ‘income’. When we talk about taxpayer’s money and the health care system—no matter the importance of other interests competing for dollars, health care is the bottom line in humanity. How we attend to one another in a time of need—that measures--- not just the workers in the system—its part of a broader understanding that empathy is the key to a successful person—. Nurses are the glue that makes health work. Doctors too, but nurses are the ones that are face to face with unwell or injured people day in and day out. (This is a profession that should be promoted to young people starting early in life. The most noble of all in our opinion).
Respondents who selected income were somewhat more protectionist. ‘Don’t share with people who aren’t from British Columbia’ etc., yet the income response cuts another way for others “you should have to pay your fair share because of your income—but you shouldn’t be deprived of necessary medical care just because you don’t have it.” Also, “capacity to pay” has a different financial meaning than “income”. The word income means, “The money or other gain received in a given period by an individual, corporation, etc. for labor or services or from property, investments, operations etc.” (New World Dictionary). Income is perceived as an accounting measurement. The word “Income” also suggests entering something, the health care system for instance. Capacity on the other hand deals with volume and qualifications—. In this ZEUS poll we qualify this (capacity) to the volume, the qualification to pay-for health care services. Very few British Columbians in Greater Vancouver, B.C., associate money with their health care. They expect the best treatment no matter. It is a part of our history and nationally our heritage.
My ultimate educated guess is that other polling would prove that expectations of citizens about the health care system in British Columbia are higher than the capacity to deliver, (or will cynically puff that everything is great and keep moving) and that capacity may be on the downgrade if cuts are coming to reconcile the political expedience of budget difficulties. Any accounting measure-cost cutting—off the seat of the political pants—could damage the health care system beyond repair. I say this based on the following: We believe there is weakness at the point of doctor’s offices—quotas—something has gone wrong here. The result? Emergency has become part of the doctor’s office experience. There is the sense that even if you wait longer, something will get done—rather than waiting at your doctor’s office—for a long time---unless you are a lottery winner who has an appointment—and often you are returning multiple times for the same problem anyhow.
Pharmacists need to take a load of the pain management part of the pressure in the system. Doctors may doctor—surgeons may do surgery—but no-one made them blue ribbon experts on pain management—and unwell people don’t want pain. A gall bladder attack is made for morphine (which comes in tablets) not Tylenol 3, and a person should not have to wait 4 hours in emergency each time an attack takes place. “Masking’ the pain for one day isn’t going to obscure the eventual diagnosis.
Question #7 also provided great interest to us. It was our general consensus that Level of Danger /Loss of Life and Limb would easily grab up the majority of respondents. Clearly, nearly one half of the respondents were not ‘biting’. “Need” was the choice that was most popular. British Columbians feel “Need” is a -flat out- statement as one respondent relates—“if someone demands good health care they should get good health care-who the hell is doing the work, or getting on with their life if all these people are waiting for surgery—or for getting this or that fixed?” There were a few ‘Clever Freddie’s’ who in one way or another were avoiding “Level of Danger/Loss of Life and Limb,” because “That could include the junkies in downtown Vancouver—and if that’s the case none of us is going to get the help we need.”
Barack Obama’s numbers in question #8 are stellar; considering how historically Canadians have viewed U.S. health care. Obama is no longer just a media golden boy. He is the real deal—based primarily on the fact that he wants to do something meaningful about health care—the health care system in the United States leaves many--- out. Given the history of health care in the United States, the resistance to change and the hold of the special interests in that country is it realistic to believe that positive change will come?
What is interesting is given the fear Canadians have had of the U.S. health care system—or alternatively the way we have gloated over our own health care system—the number of respondents who perceived B.C.’s health care system as positive (question# 3) is (14%) lower than the number of respondents who are of the opinion U.S. president Barack Obama can ‘pull off’ health care success in his country. The number of respondents from (question #3) who perceived B.C.’s health care system as positive on a decided basis is (7.5%) higher than those respondents who answered “Yes” to president Obama ‘pulling it off’. Respondents in this poll are as positive about B.C.’s health care system as they are about Obama’s ability ‘pulling off’ “FIXING”, the Unites States health care system. To fix is “To make firm, stable, secure, or to make permanent or lasting, to repair, remedy, heal.”
The (19-40) age demographic supports subsidized liability insurance for B.C. doctors AND supports Barack Obama “pulling it off”.
Theory development:
The perception of standard of ‘fixing’ health care in B.C. is subjective to each person’s perception of the existing standard in B.C.’s health care system. If you believe the health care system is fine than it doesn’t require fixing. If you do not believe the health care system is fine than it does require fixing. The older you are the less confidence you have in B.C. health care system.
Two-thirds wants change (question #1). However some respondents who don’t want change believe the health care system is “Not Very Good”. The theory that British Columbians want change to their health care system is pretty solid. Any theory that this change is about money from B.C. patients is a non-starter. They want it better, they want it more efficient, and they don’t associate money to any great extent with these objectives.
We believe these numbers reveal that money/income is not a major consideration when British Columbians consider health care. They expect the best whether they have money or not. Recent reports in news publications about huge salaries for bureaucrats and other people—often are making up to ten times what elected politicians make—has set the stage for some uncomfortable soul searching from the Campbell government et al in the province of British Columbia, Canada.
If nothing else—our Obama question reveals that with a popular, believable leader—frankly anything is possible with the people in a democratic environment. I may find the numbers British Columbians ascribe to president Obama a little lofty—but I would not bet against him as a decent standard for purposes of this poll—if that standard is linked to hope and expectation. I am not as hopeful for B.C.’s health care.
It is entirely possible that the United States will have better health care than we do in B.C. within five years.
The politics of health care in British Columbia
The commercials for the health of B.C.’s Highways send a far better message about healthy roads than any news we receive ‘about personal health’. Coincidence? Kevin Falcon, the new B.C. health minister and former transportation minister has a daunting task ahead of him. He may be able to read a road map but can he “feel your pain?”
When Falcon was first appointed I thought Gordon Campbell was making a type of anointment, which might also serve him as a political bulwark against Glen P. Robbins former client, Surrey mayor Dianne Watts—who easily has the highest positives of any politician in the province, and can have Gordon Campbell’s job as leader of the BC Liberals anytime after 2010 she chooses—(what political choice does she have?). Watts should let Falcon have it as early as possible—start listing the demands for Surrey-health care good business for our government- but let’s make it work for the people—what does it actually cost for a higher standard ---and what might be the tax increase implications in the future. Rich people will come to live in Vancouver after the 2010 Olympics. Let’s invest in a higher standard now—front to back.
Who in their right mind would cut wages to people who for years and years have cleaned hospitals? The new world of medical difficulty (as if cancer wasn’t enough) is infectious disease---and the B.C. government thought this a good place to make cuts----and let the argument go all the way to Canada’s Supreme Court. Really, that’s a filthy mind!
This is not encouraging use of intelligence. I think B.C.’s health care system is headed for trouble if proper action—isn’t taken soon.
Glen P. Robbins
Respondents by age grouping: (1st set on left polling age/2nd set on right B.C. #’s)*
19-24 (312) (08%); (B.C. 10.5%) 25-30 (235) (06%); (B.C. 8.0%) 31-35 (336) (09%); (B.C. 7.0%) 36-40 (246) (07%); (B.C. 8.0%) 41-45 (282) (07%); (B.C. 8.5%) 46-50 (498) (13%); (B.C. 8.0%) 51-55 (564) (15%); (B.C. 7.5%) 56-60 (216) (06%); (B.C. 6.5%) 61-65 (311) (08%); (B.C. 4.5%) 66-70 (198) (05%); (B.C. 4.0%) 71-75 (324) (09%); (B.C. 3.0%) 76-80 (126) (03%); (B.C. 2.5%) 80 + (132) (03%); (B.C. 1.5%)
• 17% of respondents would not give out their age. We included all those respondents in the total numbers. The (19-50) age respondents represent (51%) of all respondents. Respondents aged (19-30) are underrepresented, as are those aged (36-45). The age group of (46-55) is much higher than actual. We kept the (56-60) age group relatively close to the norm. The age group 61 to 80+ is also over represented. Based on other statistical evidence recovered by Sce Research we believe this respondent distribution fairly accurately depicts the realities of Health Care service in the province of British Columbia—all things (dollars) being relatively equal.
This poll was assisted in part by ‘In Kind’ donations of research and Jim Van Rassel (604) 328-5398 “an advocate for the average citizen”.
Glen P. Robbins was in and out of hospital by medical necessity during much of the polling period and is responsible for data interpretation ONLY. Thanks to all the nurses at Eagle Ridge Hospital—in Port Moody, British Columbia.

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