Healthcare Affordability: Majority of Adults Support Significant Changes to the Health System

Bipartisan consensus exists on ideas to lower out-of-pocket costs.
A patient pays cash for services in a medical office.

This national survey of adults helps illuminate respondents’ experiences with healthcare costs, perceptions of who is to blame, appetite for change, and feelings about a range of policy reforms.

The Issue

Healthcare costs continue to rise putting access to high-quality health services out of reach for too many individuals and families, especially those with lower incomes who are disproportionately people of color.    

Key Findings

  • All of the policy ideas tested achieved a majority of support from a bipartisan group of respondents with several receiving 80 percent or more, including:

    - Put limits on what drug companies can charge for specific drugs that save lives or that millions of people use to treat life-long health conditions like diabetes. (89%)

    - Prevent drug companies from blocking cheaper generic drugs from being sold in the United States. (86%)

    - Put limits on the prices that hospitals can charge for services. (85%)

    - Allow the government to negotiate lower drug prices for employers and consumers. (84%)

    - Put limits on the prices that doctors can charge for services. (81%)

    - Eliminate health insurance deductibles and copayments so that people don't have to pay more to use their health insurance. (80%)

  • More than half (52%) of respondents want big fundamental changes to the health system to bring costs down.  

  • A high level of agreement on who respondents blame for rising healthcare costs. While most people surveyed fault health insurance (71%) and drug companies (69%) for high costs, 80 percent of respondents, including most Republicans (61%), believe it is the government’s responsibility to ensure healthcare is affordable.

  • Respondents who are currently enrolled in the marketplace (78%) or who are uninsured (74%) report facing the most healthcare sacrifices due to high costs.

  • The most frustrating healthcare costs for all respondents include surprise or unexpected bills (41%), health insurance deductibles (40%), and bills received after care (38%).

  • Respondents of color expressed the most worry about healthcare costs, while individuals with the lowest incomes (and greatest needs) report feeling most harmed by high costs.

Conclusion

Now more than ever, there is widespread support for policies to lower healthcare costs as consumers continue to make sacrifices such as delaying or forgoing care. Those with lower incomes, who are disproportionately people of color, report feeling the strain of high healthcare costs more than others, illustrating that lowering costs can help advance health equity.

About the Survey

The 18-minute survey was conducted online June 25–July 12, 2021 using NORC/AmeriSpeak’s online panel. The base survey is n = 2,555 adults nationwide plus oversamples for totals of:

  • N = 689 Black adults

  • N = 618 Latinx adults

  • N = 476 AAPI adults

  • N = 113 adults enrolled in the Marketplace plans

  • N = 524 adults enrolled in Medicare

The survey was offered in English and Spanish. The margin of sampling error for total results: + 3.05 percentage points.

 

Webinar: Perceptions on Healthcare Affordability

Webinar: Perceptions on Healthcare Affordability

A doctor speaks to a patient.

Webinar: Perceptions on Healthcare Affordability

In November 2021, the Foundation hosted a webinar to present findings of a survey that illuminates respondents’ experiences with healthcare costs, perceptions of who is to blame, appetite for change, and feelings about a range of policy reforms.
In November 2021, the Foundation hosted a webinar to present findings of a survey that illuminates respondents’ experiences with healthcare costs, perceptions of who is to blame, appetite for change, and feelings about a range of policy reforms.

Webinar: Perceptions on Healthcare Affordability

In November 2021, the Foundation hosted a webinar to present findings of a survey that illuminates respondents’ experiences with healthcare costs, perceptions of who is to blame, appetite for change, and feelings about a range of policy reforms.