A new Health-Gallup poll reveals how Americans feel about the U.S. healthcare system
Even though the healthcare measures in the Inflation Reduction Act will not take effect for some time, this new research should send a clear message to policymakers that there is still immediate work to be done to cut healthcare expenses.
A new report from West Health and Gallup, a polling company, says that 44% of the country, or about 114 million people, give the U.S. healthcare system poor (30%) or failing (14%) grades. These numbers go up and get worse when it comes to affordability and health equity.
In the 2022 West Health-Gallup Healthcare in America Report, a nationally representative sample of more than 5,500 Americans were asked to provide a letter grade (A-excellent, B-good, C-satisfactory, D-poor, and F-fail) for the healthcare system overall, as well as grades for affordability, equity, accessibility, and quality of care.
Overall, there were few opportunities for high ratings, with the healthcare system receiving an average grade of C-minus. About half of women and Hispanic and Asian Americans gave it a D or F, compared to 40% of men and 43% of White and Black Americans, who were more positive.
However, affordability received more failing scores than anything else, receiving an average grade of D-minus from three-quarters of Americans, or an estimated 190 million adults.
Barely 1% of the respondents gave it the highest possible score of A, 6% only a B, and 19% a C.
Regardless of gender, age, color, household income, or political leaning, there were startling similarities in the negative attitudes toward healthcare affordability.
“After years of higher prices, growing inequities, skipping treatments, getting sicker, or borrowing money to pay medical bills, it’s no wonder so many Americans view the health system so poorly,” comments Tmothy A. Lash, West Health President. “This new report should send a strong message to policymakers that despite the healthcare provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act, most of which will not take effect for some time, there is still immediate work to be done to lower healthcare prices.”
Healthcare Equity, Access, and Quality Report Card
Two-thirds of African-Americans (66%) and a comparable proportion of Asian-Americans (64%) assigned a grade of D or F for equity, which is the ability of every individual to receive appropriate treatment when they need it, regardless of their personal qualities.
That number is higher than the percentages of 55% of Hispanic and 53% of White Americans who said health equity was subpar or failing. Access to care was also a bigger issue for women, Black, Hispanic, and Asian Americans.
Compared to nearly a third of White Americans and men, more over 40% of each of these categories gave access Ds and Fs.
Only the quality of care garnered more favorable evaluations than unfavorable ones, earning the healthcare system an overall grade of C-plus.
A large gender gap developed, with women being less likely than men to give it a high grade for quality (38% vs. 57%), while fewer than half (47%) rated it an A or B.
Compared to the general public, Black and Hispanic Americans were less inclined to give high grades and more critical of quality (36% each vs. 47% overall).
Making the Grade: Why Do So Many Americans Have Such Negative Views of Healthcare?
Millions of Americans struggle daily with an expensive healthcare system, which not only gets lousy grades but also has detrimental real-world effects.
An estimated 70 million people (27%) say that if they required high-quality treatment today, they would not be able to afford it. Nearly one in five Americans claim that their health problem or that of a family member worsened as a result of not being able to pay for necessary care.
“What I’ve done instead is ration healthcare…medicine. Using less to make it last. Using less than was prescribed in order to make it last longer… Things weren’t as good as they could have been if I’d been using it…the way I should have been,” says 71-year-old Anne Courtney Davis from Ohio, one of the survey respondents.
Other Important Findings
- 66% of Americans say that their family pays too much for the care they get, which is six points higher than in April of last year.
- About 129 million people, or half the population, lack faith in their ability to pay for healthcare as they age.
- Two in three Americans under the age of 65 are concerned that Medicare won’t be around when they turn 65, and three in four people aged 62 or younger feel the same way about Social Security.
- Women are around 50% more likely than males to reduce their healthcare spending in order to pay for other household items, while Black (23%) and Hispanic (24%) Americans are 53% and 60% more likely to do so than White people (15%).
- Six out of ten Americans say that when weighing a suggested medical procedure or drug, cost is either an extremely significant or important factor.
- When compared to those over 65, those 50 to 64 years old are almost twice as likely to say cost is extremely important (29% vs. 16%), and rates are considerably higher for adults who identify as Black (39%) and Hispanic (41%).
“While America’s grading of the U.S. healthcare system is troubling, it provides a roadmap for healthcare systems and policymakers to invest and fix areas with the greatest impact to shift sentiment,” writes Dan Witters, Research Director for the Gallup National Health and Well-Being Index. “What we must remember is that there are actual people behind these grades and that too many Americans are persistently struggling to access and afford quality healthcare.”
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