74% Okay Checking Online Medical Sites, But Skeptical About Telemedicine

Most American voters are unlikely to try an online telemedicine visit in the future.  At the same time, a clear majority of Americans are at least somewhat likely to search online medical websites to learn about their symptoms on their own.

A ScottRasmussen.com national survey of 1,000 voters found that 76% of Americans would rather see a doctor in person than online, and only 40% of respondents were even somewhat likely to try a telemedicine appointment in the future. Age does not seem to be a major factor in the reasons for that reluctance, with even 72% of Americans aged 18-34 saying they prefer seeing a doctor in person (see question wording and crosstab results).

Only 13% of all respondents had actually had a telemedicine doctor’s appointment in the past.

By contrast, Americans from all walks of life are generally willing to check online medical sights to learn about symptoms they’re experiencing. That’s even though most (67%) believe the information they find on them is only somewhat reliable. No major disparities in that total were found even when the respondents were grouped by age or ethnic groups.

Despite that wary attitude, 74% of all respondents said they were very or somewhat willing to visit an online medical site to find possible causes for their symptoms. Again, that was true for similarly-sized majorities from all age and ethnic groups polled.

This survey of 1,000 Registered Voters was conducted for ScottRasmussen.com on August 26-27, 2018 by HarrisX, a leading research firm specializing in online surveys (see Methodology). The statistical margin of error is +/- 3.1 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. It is presented to enhance the public dialogue through data-driven analysis that explores the underlying currents of public opinion (read About Us and review all of our recent data releases).

But attitudes about telemedicine may change thanks to the long wait times and costs Americans are facing to see a doctor in person. It takes an average 18.4 days to actually see the doctor after making an appointment. Then, it takes two hours out of the day to spend just 20 minutes with the physician. That’s because a typical visit involves 101 minutes in the waiting room and travel time. People living in remote rural areas may have to set aside even more time.

Meanwhile, the cost of seeing a doctor has made a real impact on a significant number of American voters. 38% of respondents to a separate ScottRasmussen.com survey sat they’ve put off a doctor’s visit due to the costs involved. The survey found that this jumps to 47% among those earning less than $75,000 annually.

Heading into the midterm elections, the economy and health care are the top issues for voters. They are more likely to trust Democrats on health care and Republicans on the economy.

Sixty-eight percent (68%) believe it is very important to provide every American with Access to quality health care. A similar number (64%) support the concept of single-payer health care, but not as the term is defined in Washington. Senator Bernie Sanders and others envision eliminating private insurance options. Only 19% of voters support that approach.

In health care, as in most things, voters tend to see competition as a better option than regulation. Most believe new technologies will have a bigger impact on health care rather than new government policies. This is true even though voters dramatically underestimate the pace of tech changes in health care.

Neither Scott Rasmussen nor ScottRasmussen.com has any relationship with Rasmussen Reports® (see About Us).

Posted in Poll Results

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