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American health care getting lower ratings for quality

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Age, politics are factors as Gallup poll measures feelings in general and in personal experience.

More Americans are saying the quality of health care is declining.

Ratings dropped to new lows for health care quality generally and personally in a Gallup poll conducted in Nov. 9 to Dec. 2, 2022, and published Jan. 19.

Rating American health care, 48% of respondents said it was “excellent” or “good,” the first time in two decades that rating dropped below 50%. In the poll, 31% said health care was “only fair,” while the “poor” rating had a new high at 21%, according to the poll.

The 48% excellent/good rating was two percentage points lower than in 2021, but “well below” the 62% high of the early 2010s and below the 55% average since 2001, according to Gallup.

The perception that U.S. health care is in a state of crisis has grown to 20%, the largest percentage since 2013. At 68%, the percentage of people saying health care is in a crisis or has major problems was similar to the figure in most years from 2002 to 2021, according to Gallup.

Party lines

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“A key reason views of U.S. healthcare quality have been trending downward in recent years is that Republicans’ positive ratings have been subdued since President Donald Trump left office,” the Gallup study said.

In the most recent poll, 56% of Republicans rated health care quality as excellent or good, compared to 69% in 2020 and 75% in 2019.

“Republicans’ views of healthcare quality also dropped in 2014 after implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) before rebounding under Trump,” the study said. Democrats’ positive ratings have been steady at a lower level, at 44% in the most recent poll.

Personal experience

Respondents gave higher ratings for their own health care, compared to the general, national ratings, but those ratings varied based on age. Among adults aged 18 to 34 years, 53% said their health care was excellent or good, compared to 72% for adults aged 35 to 54 years, and 85% for adults aged 55 years and older, according to Gallup.

“Whether this change (seen across party lines) stems from rising health care costs for those not on Medicaid, perceived changes brought about by the ACA, or something else isn’t clear,” the Gallup study said. “The more recent declines among young adults may reflect changes to healthcare that have taken place amid the COVID-19 pandemic or curtailed access to abortion since the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision.”

The poll referred to the June 24, 2022, U.S. Supreme Court case generally known as Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, in which the Court overruled the decisions in Roe v. Wade of 1973 and Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pa. v. Casey of 1992, two legal landmark cases in U.S. abortion law. In the Dobbs case, the Supreme Court said “the authority to regulate abortion is returned to the people and their elected representatives.”


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