It’s not surprising that some Americans would have increased doubt about the US health care system since early 2020 and the arrival of the COVID pandemic. Of course, the pandemic was not caused by the US health care system, but with over one million deaths attributed to COVID so far, the health care system was not likely to escape a share of the blame. But that said, what is most striking about the attitudes of Americans toward the US health care system is not their more recent doubts, but rather the steadiness of their doubts during the last two decades, according to results from just-released Gallup polling (January 19, 2023).
For example, this measure suggests that only about one-third of Americans think the US health care system has minor or no problems–and that percentage hasn’t varied much in the last 20 years. Consider for a moment all the changes in the US healthcare system in the last 20 years, including the passage and enacting of the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act of 2010. In these longer term pattern of satisfaction with the overall US health care system, none of these changes seem to have had a major positive or negative effect on how Americans see health care.
Similarly, while about 60% of Americans are consistently satisfied with the cost of their own health care, only about 20-25% are satisfied with the total cost of health care for the country.
Perhaps the most interesting pattern in these survey results is that while about 60-65% of the over-55 age group view US health care quality as “excellent” or “good,” while the the satisfaction of younger health care groups with the quality of US health care seems has been diminishing for the last decade or so. Unless the opinions of younger Americans about US health care undergo a substantial shift, the pressures to “do something” about the quality of US healthcare seem likely to rise.