By the Numbers: The State of Health Care in the United States

11.30.17

A majority of Americans feel the health care system does not work well for them, according to a new national public opinion survey released by CVS Health. The poll, conducted by Morning Consult for CVS Health in October 2017, surveyed a sample of 2,201 Americans about their views and experiences related to health care.

The findings of the survey are detailed in a new report from CVS Health, The State of Health Care in the United States.

An analysis of the survey results reveals a public sentiment that is at times paradoxical. Some of the notable findings include:

Americans are dissatisfied with the health care system in general but are more content when it comes to their personal experience and health plan

Over the past five years, more Americans (41 percent) believe health care in the U.S. has generally gotten worse than who believe it has gotten better (25 percent). However, when it comes to their own experience, a plurality (39 percent) say their own health care has largely remained the same over the last five years, and respondents are more likely to acknowledge it has gotten better (28 percent) than has gotten worse (23 percent) over the same period.

Another high point for respondents is their health plan. A majority of insured respondents (83 percent) say they are somewhat or very satisfied with their coverage.

Affordability remains the biggest opportunity to improve health care

Less than a third of Americans feel the health care system is affordable. And of the respondents who say the health care system does not work well for them, the top reason – cited by 65 percent – is the health care system is too expensive. The affordability of health care, health insurance and prescription drugs are identified as the top three most serious and urgent concerns that need to be addressed.

Americans want change but are skeptical decisions put patients first

A large majority of Americans (73 percent) agree the health care system is in need of reform. A plurality (45 percent) favors reform that cuts regulations to encourage further innovation in the health care system. In contrast, 35 percent would like to see a more cautious approach that prioritizes stability and predictability.

When it comes to how decisions are made in health care, few believe that patients are put ahead of profits. Only one in five think that decisions are made by putting patients first or by considering them equally with the bottom line. Younger adults 18-29, however, are nearly twice as likely to say decisions put patients first.

The outlook for health care in the future is brighter

Respondents say they are optimistic about the future state of the health care system, including a majority of parents (52 percent) who believe their children will have better health care than they did. They point to innovation as the reason, with 65 percent who say advances in health care will make lives safer, and 66 percent who say advances will make lives longer.

Explore more about Americans’ health care perceptions in The State of Health Care in the United States. This survey was conducted online within the United States between October 19-23, 2017 among 2,201 adults aged 18+ by Morning Consult on behalf of CVS Health. Results from the survey have a margin of error of ±2%.

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