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High prices driving low grades from Americans burdened with health care bills


Report card on U.S. health care system has marks from slightly above average to really bad.

High prices driving low grades from Americans burdened with health care bills

High prices for care are leading to low grades from people worried about being priced out of the U.S. health care system.

Gallup and West Health published their “2022 Healthcare in America Report: America’s Report Card on the U.S. Healthcare System,” and the grades range from slightly above average to dismal.

  • The U.S. health care system overall had a C- grade, with 44% of respondents grading the overall system with a D for poor or F for failing. That was double the 22% grading the system with an A for excellent and B for good.
  • Cost of care received a D- grade, with about 75% of people grading D or F on affordability.
  • Equitable care earned a D+, with 56% of replies grading it D or F.
  • Access to care was graded C, with 38% of people rating it D or F.
  • Quality of care received a C+, with 17% saying it deserved a D or F grade.

“After years of higher prices, growing inequities, skipping treatments, getting sicker, or borrowing money to pay medical bills, it’s no wonder so many Americans view the health system so poorly,” West Health President Timothy A. Lash said in a news release. “This new report should send a strong message to policymakers that despite the healthcare provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act, most of which will not take effect for some time, there is still immediate work to be done to lower health care prices.”

Lash referred to the federal Inflation Reduction Act approved by Congress in August. President Joe Biden has touted provisions to cap prescription drug spending for people on Medicare and to make insulin more affordable for people with diabetes. Since then, Biden has ordered the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to explore additional actions to lower pharmaceutical costs.

As for other possible solutions, the survey showed more people are favoring the federal government leading the charge through regulations, drug price negotiations, and price controls on medical care, according to the report.

“Good policy requires an understanding of what Americans are experiencing in their everyday lives,” Lash said in the report. “Our ongoing research makes that clear and should be a guide for policymakers today, and in the future.”

High prices driving low grades from Americans burdened with health care bills

This graphic was included in “2022 Healthcare in America Report: America’s Report Card on the U.S. Healthcare System,” a survey by Gallup and West Health with published in October 2022. More than 5,500 adults from around the country gave bad grades to affordability of medical care in the U.S. health care system.

Major influences

The report listed key drivers for the poor grades.

For affordability, 27% of people – or about 70 million Americans – reported they would not be able to afford quality care today if they needed it. Affordability and value of care are inconsistent for most people, with one in 14 adults, or about 18 million people, classified as cost desperate, meaning they avoid treatment, forgo medication, or cannot afford needed health care due to cost.

For equity, women and Black and Hispanic people fared worst among demographic groups. Grades D and F came from 61% of women vs. 50% of men, 64% of Asian Americans and 66% of Black Americans. Hispanic and White Americans’ grades weren’t much better, with a 55% and 53% of respondents, respectively, grading D and F.

For safety net care later in life, “pessimism regarding Medicare’s solvency weighs heavily on the minds of most Americans,” the report said. “More than six in 10 adults aged 50 to 64 are worried (39%) or extremely worried (22%) Medicare will not be available when they become eligible – a stark finding given that this group is nearing the age of 65.”

Three in four people aged 62 years or younger say the same about Social Security, and half of respondents – representing an estimated 129 million people – have low confidence they will be able to afford health care as they age.

One-third of Americans over age 50 years have forgone food or over-the-counter drugs to pay for health care. Among those aged 50 to 64 years, 17% consider health care costs a major burden for their households.

The survey took place June 21 to 30 with 5,584 adults living in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

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