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Americans want Congress to take action to stem rising health care costs


Patients want controls on drug prices and more oversight on the industry

As inflation continues to affect Americans in all aspects of their lives, many are concerned about rising drug costs and want Congress to take action.

The latest Kaiser Family Foundation Health Tracking Poll shows the public wants lawmakers to prioritize out-of-pocket health care costs, with a majority of the public (61%) say limiting how much drug companies can increase the price of prescription drugs each year to not surpass the rate of inflation should be a “top priority” for Congress.

Lowering the price of prescription drugs has been a major tenet of President Biden’s health care agenda and a constant source of debate among legislators. The latest polling finds three in ten adults (29%), including four in ten (43%) adults with household incomes of less than $40,000, saying they have either not filled a prescription, cut pills in half or skipped doses, or taken an over-the-counter medication instead due to the cost of their prescription drugs.

Slight majorities say capping out-of-pocket costs for insulin at $35 a month (53%) and placing a limit on out-of-pocket costs for seniors (52%) are top priorities in the coming months.

About half of the public (48%) continue to say allowing the federal government to negotiate with drug companies to get a lower price on prescription drugs for people with Medicare is a top priority. Four in ten say expanding health coverage to people with lower incomes in states that have not expanded their Medicaid programs (42%), increasing government funding for access to mental health services and training for mental health providers (42%), and taking federal action to improve the safety and quality of nursing home care (40%) are top priorities for Congress.

Smaller shares say providing more funding to continue the COVID-19 pandemic response (25%) or making permanent the financial help that was part of the COVID-19 relief bill for people who buy their own insurance (21%) should be top congressional health care priorities.

In addition to being worried about affording health care costs along with other household expenses, half of adults (51%) report that they have delayed or gone without medical services due to costs in the past year. This includes more than one-third who have put off dental services (35%), and one-fourth who have put off vision care (25%) or general visits to their doctor or health care provider (24%). Fewer say they have put off mental health care (18%) or hospital services (14%) due to cost.

Twelve years since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, a majority of the public (55%) continue to view the law favorably, but opinions towards the 2010 health reform law are still divided by partisanship. Majorities of Democrats (87%) hold favorable views of the law and many (43%) say the law has directly helped them and their families. On the other side of the political aisle, most Republicans (79%) view the law unfavorably and four in ten say the ACA has hurt them and their families.

The No Surprises Act went into effect earlier this year and began protecting people with private health insurance from receiving surprise out-of-network medical bills when they received care from an in-network hospital. However, more than half of adults, 18-64, with private insurance say they know nothing at all about this legislation (56%), with an additional one in five (22%) saying they only know “a little.”

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