Americans' expectations about our health care system are a cascade of pessimism, according to new survey data from West Health and Gallup.
By the numbers: 76% expect health care costs to increase over the next couple of years, and 77% said they're concerned that rising health costs "will result in significant and lasting damage" to the U.S. economy.
- 69% said they're "not at all confident" Washington will be able to do anything about it.
Between the lines: Given the hypothetical choice between a 10% increase in their income or a guarantee that their health care costs wouldn't go up for 5 years, most people — 61% — said they'd take the freeze in health care costs.
- Statistically, health costs are a bigger burden on lower-income families. But majorities in every income group — even people making more than $180,000 per year — said they'd rather have a freeze in health care costs than a 10% raise.
Americans are more down on the system as a whole, rather than their personal experience with it.
- Just 39% of those surveyed in the Gallup/West Health poll said they're satisfied with how well the U.S. health care system works for Americans generally, while 64% are satisfied with the way it works for their households.
- Only 10% of those surveyed said they had foregone treatment in the past year because of its cost, while 12% said they borrowed money to pay for care.
- Even so, that satisfaction seems tenuous: 45% are concerned that a "major health event" in their families could lead to bankruptcy.
My thought bubble: This same tug-of-war animates the political debate over health care — people are receptive to the idea that our system is bad, but there's still a risk in changing what they think works well for them.