Changing America

112 million Americans struggle to pay for health care: survey

“Bottom line – Americans are increasingly getting priced out of the system and many of those who can still afford to pay don’t think they’re getting their money’s worth relative to the cost,” West Health President Tim Lash said.
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Story at a glance

  • The data was collected by Gallup and West Health through the Healthcare Affordability Index and Healthcare Value Index, which gathered the opinions of 6,600 U.S. Adults.

  • The Healthcare Affordability Index measured the public’s ability to pay for necessary health care.

  • The Healthcare Value Index evaluated American’s views of health care in relation to its cost.

Around 112 million Americans have trouble paying for health care, while more than 90 percent of the country believes it is not worth the cost, according to a new report released Thursday.  

The data was collected by Gallup and West Health through the Healthcare Affordability Index and Healthcare Value Index, which gathered the opinions of more than 6,600 U.S. Adults. The Healthcare Affordability Index measured the public’s ability to pay for necessary health care, while the Healthcare Value Index evaluated Americans’ views of health care in relation to its cost.  

“These indices are tracking the healthcare cost crisis in America and its impact on everyday Americans,” Tim Lash, President of West Health, said in a news release.  

“Bottom line – Americans are increasingly getting priced out of the system and many of those who can still afford to pay don’t think they’re getting their money’s worth relative to the cost. We must begin to change this trajectory with smarter policies that put patients over profits.” 

A survey respondent was considered “cost desperate” if they were unable to pay for health care within the three months before the survey, skipped medical prescription due to cost in the same period, or said they could not afford medical care if it was needed that day. “Cost insecure” individuals were classified by experiencing two of the previous three indicators.  

The survey found that 36 percent of respondents were “cost desperate” and another 8 percent were “cost insecure.”  


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Survey respondents said that health care costs also affected their abilities to cover other necessary costs. More than 35 percent said they had to scale back utility expenses and another 50 percent said they had to slash food costs.  

Only 5 percent of adults surveyed indicated a “High Perceived Value” in health care, meaning they believe they and other Americans are paying an appropriate amount for health care and that the treatment received is worth the price.  

“These estimates are important resources for policymakers, researchers, and the public to evaluate and understand the burden of high healthcare costs,” said Dan Witters, a senior researcher for Gallup. “The indices paint a comprehensive picture of why Americans are unable to keep pace with the rising costs and don’t see value in the care they are receiving.” 

The results were derived from two survey periods, Sept. 27-30, and Oct. 18-21, and they measured the responses of 6,663 American adults aged 18 and older.  


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