WASHINGTON — If you think the U.S. healthcare system leaves a lot to be desired, you’re not alone. In a report by West Health and Gallup, almost half of Americans, or about 114 million people, gave poor or failing grades to the nation’s medical system. The study asked over 5,500 participants to provide letter grades for different aspects of healthcare, and the results were overwhelmingly negative.
The aspect that received the most failing grades was affordability, with three-quarters of Americans rating it no higher than a D or F.
“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,” says Timothy A. Lash, President of West Health, in a media 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 healthcare prices.”
Researchers also found that certain groups, such as Black and Asian Americans, were more critical of the healthcare system when it came to equity and access to care. Quality of care received a relatively more positive response, but there were still gender disparities in ratings.
The struggles faced by Americans due to the high cost of healthcare are not just reflected in the report card grades but also in real-life consequences. A significant number of respondents reported worsening health conditions due to being unable to pay for necessary care. Additionally, a substantial portion of the population expressed concerns about being able to afford healthcare as they age.
“What I’ve done instead is ration healthcare…medicine. Using less to make it last. Using less than was prescribed in order to make it last longer…Things weren’t as good as they could have been if I’d been using it…the way I should have been,” explains 71-year-old Anne Courtney Davis from Ohio, one of the survey respondents.
While the study sheds light on the troubling state of the U.S. healthcare system, it also provides an opportunity for improvement. The findings can guide policymakers and healthcare systems in addressing the areas that have the most impact on public sentiment. It’s crucial to remember that behind these grades are real people struggling to access and afford quality healthcare.
West Health, funded by philanthropists Gary and Mary West, notes that they are dedicated to lowering healthcare costs and improving access to high-quality care for seniors. Gallup is a renowned organization that provides analytics and advice to help leaders address pressing problems and understand public attitudes and behaviors.