Americans Hold Mixed View of Healthcare System

Americans' view of the US healthcare system continues to fall, according to a survey from the Employee Benefit Research Institute.

Americans’ view of the US healthcare system continues to fall, according to a survey from the Employee Benefit Research Institute.

The institute’s 2014 Health and Voluntary Workplace Benefits Survey found 61% of workers described the American healthcare as “poor” or “fair.” Only 11% consider it “very good” or “excellent.”

In last year’s survey, 55% of respondents used “poor” or “fair” to describe the health system.

“The overall national opinion of the healthcare system is bad and getting worse,” said Paul Fronstin, the report’s author.

The long-term trend in dissatisfaction is pronounced. Back in 1998, only 14% of consumers described the healthcare system as “poor.” That number sits at 29% today, down slightly from its peak of 32% in 2006.

Still, many respondents said their dissatisfaction didn’t apply to their personal plan. Half of the respondents with health insurance said they were “very satisfied” or “extremely satisfied” with their plans.

A Gallup poll out earlier this year found higher satisfaction rates, though those survey respondents were only given a choice between “satisfied” and “dissatisfied.” About two-thirds (66%) said they were satisfied with the way the healthcare system was working for them personally.

The survey found that the Affordable Care Act has done little to improve Americans’ view of the healthcare system. Only about half (47%) of respondents said they were confident they could get the treatments they need. Thirty-three percent said they are “somewhat confident.” One-fifth said they are “not too confident” or “not at all confident.”

However, when asked about the future, only 30% said they expect to get the treatments they need during the next 10 years. Only 19% of those expecting to be eligible for Medicare said the same.

Meanwhile, consumers appeared to feel constricted in their choices of healthcare providers. Only 38% said they were “extremely confident” or “very confident” that they have enough choice when it comes to providers. One-third were “somewhat confident,” about one-quarter were “not too confident” or “not at all confident.”