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Drugs and Insurance Top Ohioans List of Health Concerns

O'dell Owens

A new survey of Ohioan’s health concerns shows drug use tops the list followed closely by health insurance. For Ohio Public Radio, WKSU’s M.L. Schultze has more.

The Ohio Health Issues Poll says for 21 percent of those surveyed drug use is Ohio’s top health problem. Dr. O’dell Owens, president of the survey’s sponsor Interact for Health, says that’s because the issue has penetrated the public’s consciousness on several levels.

“We can look at the news at night and see in front of us a couple – a couple – both overdose on a highway, maybe in a minor crash, with a child in the back seat. And I think those are images that penetrate not just the brains of people but the hearts as well.”

He says the opioid crisis, even if it were brought under control today, will have lasting consequences. Those include Hepatitis C, which will surface – along with huge medical costs – decades from now.

And Owens says that will likely accelerate the concern that is now second on the survey’s lists: The cost and availability of health insurance. For now, Owens says the concern is uncertainty caused in part by concern about pledges to repeal of Obamacare and what will replace it. 

Owens on insurance concerns

“People still don’t know – those who are on the Medicaid side, especially the expanded Medicaid side – are they going to have anything come the next year or two. And for those with private insurance, it’s still the rising costs, increase in copays and oftentimes a narrowing of the physician pool.”

M.L. Schultze came to WKSU as news director in July 2007 after 25 years at The Repository in Canton, where she was managing editor for nearly a decade. She’s now the digital editor and an award-winning reporter and analyst who has appeared on NPR, Here and Now and the TakeAway, as well as being a regular panelist on Ideas, the WVIZ public television's reporter roundtable.