By Lily Bohlke - Public News Service

As the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, Michiganders are concerned about the quality of their health care, according to new research.

A recent poll of about 600 Michigan voters finds neatly 80% agree the amount they pay for health care seems to be going up every year. More than a quarter said they had overdue or unpaid medical bills they were struggling to pay off at the time of the survey.

Bernie Porn, president of the polling firm EPIC-MRA, said the poll makes it clear cost is the overarching concern when it comes to the state of the health-care system.

"It's not surprising that many Michigan voters are stressed out about the idea of going to a hospital or seeing a doctor," Porn remarked. "Out-of-pocket costs should not be so high or unpredictable that they discourage people from seeking care."

He noted in addition to high premiums and high deductibles, 85% of Michigan voters are worried about what he calls "junk" insurance plans that provide too little coverage. The poll was conducted last month by ALG Research and EPIC-MRA on behalf of Consumers for Quality Care.

Surveys also underscore the role the pandemic has played in shaping voters' opinions of the health-care system.

Jim Manley, board member of Consumers for Quality Care, said they show how COVID-19 has exposed flaws in the health-care system.

"Obviously, the pandemic is driving a lot of health-care-related issues," Manley asserted. "But I think it's pretty clear that, especially in the wake of the COVID pandemic, voters want to make sure that their insurance is affordable and protects them, especially if they have pre-existing conditions."

Manley added voters nationally said they want elected officials to support legislation that keeps insurance deductibles low enough, so they don't get in the way of receiving quality care. Among Michigan voters polled, 90% agreed.