Nearly seven in 10 Virginia adults (69 percent) indicate they have been vaccinated against COVID-19. Yet among those who haven’t been vaccinated, the majority (87 percent) say they don’t plan to get the vaccine. Virginians also maintain favorable views of hospitals, with some saying their views have grown more favorable as a result of the work of hospitals during the pandemic.
These findings are among the results of a recent statewide poll of 800 registered Virginia voters conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy that included a range of questions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, perceptions about hospitals and health insurance companies, and other health care issues.
On the subject of vaccinations, those who are unvaccinated offered a range of reasons for not being inoculated, including concerns that the vaccine could cause other health problems (28 percent), doubts about the health threat posed by COVID-19 (22 percent), doubts about vaccines in general (18 percent), a feeling that the vaccine is unnecessary for individuals who have already contracted coronavirus (17 percent), and skepticism about the federal government’s role in vaccine development (13 percent).
The scientific evidence clearly demonstrates that the vaccines help limit the spread of COVID-19 and protect people from becoming seriously ill, being hospitalized, or dying from the virus.
Virginia Department of Health data shows that since late January when vaccines first became available to the public in the Commonwealth, 99.4 percent of cases, 99 percent of hospitalizations, and 99.3 percent of deaths have occurred in people who have not been vaccinated.
The poll also found that 13 percent of Virginians either personally experienced a mental health or substance abuse challenge during the pandemic or had a close family member who did. Of that 13 percent, 85 percent indicated they had already received treatment for their challenges or plan to seek help, while 11 percent said they don’t plan to pursue treatment. Those figures reflect a broader continuing trend of increased utilization of behavioral health treatment by Virginians – a pattern that held true during 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Even as hospital admissions, emergency department visits, and most other hospital service lines saw considerable declines in volume last year, the use of behavioral health and substance abuse services in hospitals rose during the pandemic. Nearly 9 in 10 Virginians (88 percent) now say they feel safe about going to a hospital or doctor’s office to get medical care despite the continued presence of COVID-19. And fewer Virginians are delaying health care services due to COVID-19 concerns.
Last year, nearly four in 10 people (39 percent) said they had delayed care due to the pandemic. Now, just 23 percent say they have delayed care. Of those, four in 10 (40 percent) said they still have not rescheduled care they put off during the pandemic.
In other poll findings:
Favorable View of Hospitals • 83 percent of people view Virginia hospitals favorably and 78 percent said they have had a positive personal or family experience in Virginia hospitals.
- One in four Virginians (25 percent) said the work of hospitals during the pandemic – when hospitals treated and discharged more than 58,000 COVID-19 patients, administered more than 2 million vaccine doses, and served as a first line of public health defense – made their views of hospitals more positive.
Views on Insurance Companies and State Insurance Oversight
- Nearly two-thirds of people (63 percent) believe it is unfair for insurance companies to make record profits in a pandemic while health care providers and the rest of the economy suffers, and a majority (56 percent) view health insurance companies unfavorably, compared to 21 percent who view them favorably.
- As in previous polling, results from this survey show that most Virginians (57 percent) said they aren’t aware of the State Corporation Commission’s Bureau of Insurance, its regulatory function, and the services it can provide to the public.
- And three in four Virginians (75 percent) say they support changes to the state Ethics and Fair Business Practices Act law to prevent insurers from unilaterally changing contract terms with providers that can result in patients being out-of-network with their preferred providers.
Certificate of Public Need and Medicaid Expansion Provider Assessment
- A majority (54 percent) believe that Virginia’s Certificate of Public Need (COPN) program should be kept in place, as opposed to just 14 percent who believe it should be eliminated. That is in line with the results of polling conducted in 2020 and 2019 when 59 percent and 55 percent of people, respectively, said that the program should be retained.
- And 74 percent support requiring insurers and drug companies to help fund the annual state share of costs for Medicaid expansion. Those results are consistent with previous polling when 70 percent (2020) and 72 percent (2019) expressed support for this concept. Right now, Virginia hospitals are the only health care sector partners shouldering those costs, which this year will exceed $400 million.
The recent statewide public opinion poll conducted by Mason-Dixon is the latest in a series of surveys commissioned by VHHA to help identify health care issues of concern to Virginians and to inform the Association’s approach to developing corresponding public policy solutions.
The poll of 800 registered Virginia voters was conducted June 3-10, 2021 and featured live landline and cell phone interviews with Virginians from all regions of the state representing a wide array of ethnic, gender, age, and political diversity reflecting the demographics of the Commonwealth.