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Americans Believe They Pay Too Much for Health Care and Support Efforts to Reform our Current System

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Washington, D.C.–When it comes to health care, unsurprisingly, Americans across the political spectrum believe that individuals and families pay too much for health insurance premiums and out-of-pocket costs (85 percent), according to a newMorning Consult survey released today by the Bipartisan Policy Center. Yet they show little support for either a fully government, or fully market-based system, once they consider the necessary trade-offs such as increasing taxes, limiting choice, or reducing benefits. While the findings didn’t show overwhelming support for one reform strategy, respondents expressed the most support for building on our current health care system.

The survey also revealed that Democrats and Republicans largely support bipartisan efforts and compromises to reform our nation’s health care system.

The national survey, conducted by Morning Consult in July 2018, reflects a representative national sample of 2,201 Americans ages 18 and over and looked at attitudes about health care cost and coverage, including single-payer and fully private approaches to health reform.

Among the findings:

  • More respondents supported private-sector approaches to improve health care (48 percent), than a federal-government led approach (39 percent). However, support for a market-based approach dropped if it resulted in: 1) Higher numbers of uninsured individuals due to increased premium cost (54 percent); 2) Deductibles as high as $10,000 per year (68 percent); and 3) Older and less healthy adults paying higher premiums, or receiving fewer benefits (61 percent).
  • While cost concerns may drive support for market-driven approaches to reduce costs, consumers’ support was tempered if it also affected health care coverage.
  • When asked how to change our health care system, there was not overwhelming support for any single approach, however reforming the Affordable Care Act had the highest support: 1) Reforming the Affordable Care Act (29 percent); 2) I don’t know or no response (22 percent); 3) Market-driven approaches with consumers paying more based on the providers they choose (21 percent); 4) A federal single payer system (17 percent); and 5) Privatization that includes Medicare and Medicaid (7 percent).
  • Despite support for market-based approaches to health care reform, when asked how best to address the cost of health care, there was significant support for government involvement in pricing of health care services and prescription drugs.
  • While there is support for government involvement in reducing health care costs, there is little support among both Democrats and Republicans for conventional cost-containment approaches such as cutting benefits, capping federal Medicaid payments to states, or increasing Medicare payroll taxes or eligibility age.
  • Self-identified Independents were much more likely to respond “don’t know” or “no opinion.”
  • Across an array of questions about benefits, premiums and copayments respondents expressed support for greater consumer choice.

“The results of this survey confirm that Americans see their health care system as being costly and complicated,” said Bill Hoagland, BPC senior vice president. “However, when they are faced with the pros and cons of stark alternatives to the current system, Americans are very pragmatic. They agree that neither a single-payer, government-run system nor a fully, unregulated, free-market system is realistic. Therefore, finding common ground and bipartisan solutions must remain the long-term goal for policymakers to reduce costs and improve the health care of all Americans.”

The data also shows many inconsistencies, for example, even those who support less government involvement in health care want to preserve protections for those who are older, low-income, or have pre-existing conditions. They also seem to support government price controls on providers and prescription drug manufacturers.

“Respondents support for a single-payer approach or fully market-based approach erodes when faced with an increase in taxes, premiums, out-of-pocket costs, or reduced benefits for themselves or others,” said Katherine Hayes, BPC Director of Health Policy. “Polling, while a useful guide to policymakers, does not present a roadmap to help policymakers resolve the impasse on health reform. Finding solutions will require difficult trade-offs, leadership, and agreement on a common set of goals or principles such as those proposed by BPC’s expert panel on the Future of Health Care.”

For more information on the survey, click here.