44% of Americans give poor or failing ratings to the US health care system

Nearly half of the country (44%), or about 114 million Americans, give poor (30%) or failing (14%) ratings of the U.S. health care system, percentages that climb higher and become even more negative when a matter of affordability and health capital, according to a new report by West Health and Gallup, the polling organization.

The West Health-Gallup Healthcare in America 2022 report asked a nationally representative sample of more than 5,500 Americans to provide a letter grade (A-excellent, B-good, C-satisfactory, D-poor and F-failing) for the health care system overall and to provide individual assessments of affordability, equity, affordability and quality of care.

High marks were in short supply across the board, with the health system receiving an average grade of C-minus. Women and Hispanic and Asian Americans were more negative, with about half of each group giving it a grade of D or F, compared with about 40 percent of men and 43 percent of white and black Americans.

However, nothing earned more failing marks than affordability, which for three-quarters of Americans -; approximately 190 million adults -; deserved no higher than a D (41%) or F (33%) for a D-minus average. The top grade of A was virtually non-existent (1%), only 6% made it to B, and 19% gave it an average grade of C. Negative feelings about health care affordability were strikingly similar across gender, age, race, household income and political beliefs.

After years of higher prices, growing inequality, missing out on treatment, getting worse or borrowing money to pay medical bills, it’s no wonder so many Americans view the health care system so poorly. This new report should send a strong message to policymakers that despite the health care provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act, most of which won’t take effect for some time, there is still immediate work to do to reduce health care prices.

Timothy A. Lash, President, West Health

Health Equity, Access and Quality of Care Report Card

Two-thirds of black Americans (66%) and a similar percentage of Asian Americans (64%) gave a D or F for fairness, the ability of every person to get quality care when they need it, regardless of personal characteristics. That’s more than the 55% of Hispanics and 53% of white Americans who think equity in health care is poor or failing. Blacks, Hispanics, and Asian Americans and women were also more critical when it came to accessing care. More than 40% of each of these groups gave access Ds and Fs, compared to about a third of white Americans and men.

Quality of care was the only aspect of the health care system that received more positive than negative ratings, though it still only managed to earn an overall grade of C-plus. Less than half (47%) gave it an A or B grade, but a significant gender divide emerged, with women far less likely to give it high quality marks than men (38% vs. 57%). Blacks and Hispanics are more negative about quality and less likely to give top ratings than the general population (36% each vs. 47% overall).

Preparation of assessment -; Why do so many Americans view health care so poorly?

Millions of Americans struggle every day in the face of an expensive health care system, a struggle that not only results in poor reporting but negative real-life consequences. Nearly one in five Americans say they or a family member had a health problem that worsened after they couldn’t pay for needed care, and about 70 million people (27%) report that if they needed quality care, they wouldn’t be able to afford it.

“What I did instead is ration health care… medicine. Using less to continue. Using less than prescribed to make it last longer … Things were not as good as they could have been if I had used it … as I should have,” said Anne Courtney Davis, 71, of Ohio, one of the respondents in the survey.

Additional key findings

  • 66% of Americans say their household is paying too much for the quality of care they receive, up six points from last April.
  • Half the country, about 129 million people, lack confidence that they will be able to afford health care as they age.
  • Two in three Americans under 65 worry that Medicare won’t exist when they turn 65, and 3 in 4 adults 62 or younger say the same about Social Security.
  • 17% cut health services to pay for other household goods, with women more likely to do so than men (about 50% more likely); and black (23%) and Hispanic (24%) Americans were 53% and 60% more likely than white adults (15%).
  • Six in 10 Americans report that price is an extremely important or important factor when considering a recommended medical procedure or drug.
  • People aged 50 to 64 are almost twice as likely to say price is extremely important than those over 65 (29% vs. 16%) -; rates that are even higher for blacks (39%) and Hispanics (41%).

“While the U.S. Health Care Assessment in America is troubling, it provides a road map for health care systems and policymakers to invest in and adjust areas with the greatest impact on changing sentiment,” said Dan Withers, Gallup National Health Research Director and Well-Being Index. “What we need to remember is that there are real people behind these estimates and that too many Americans are struggling to access and afford quality health care.”

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