Washington DC, March 1, 2022 – A new PhRMA and Ipsos poll finds that Americans struggle to pay for and navigate the health care system. Many frustrations with health care hinge on inadequate health insurance coverage, the confusion with navigating health insurance barriers to access, and the unexpected expenses and coverage issues patients experience. Americans want to see solutions around out-of-pocket costs, along with more transparency and predictability in cost from health care institutions.
The poll was conducted among 2,510 American adults using Ipsos’ probability based KnowledgePanel®, and it is representative of the American adult population. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 2.2 percentage points at the 95% confidence level, for results based on the entire sample of adults.
A bi-partisan supermajority (87%) of Americans feel politicians have lost touch with what the public needs from their health care. In line with how the public ranks health care issues – with “health insurance costs and coverage” topping the list of priorities in health care, only behind the “coronavirus pandemic” – 86% of Americans agree that Congress should focus on cracking down on abusive health insurance practices that make it harder for people to get the care they need. There is agreement across party lines; 92% of Democratic and 84% of Republican registered voters agree.
Relatedly, when given the choice between two options, Americans would rather see Congress focus more on reducing the overall costs of health care coverage such as premiums, deductibles, and copays (71%) than reducing the costs of prescription drugs (29%).
When navigating the health care system, overcoming insurance coverage barriers, the confusion of insurance coverage, the costs of care and the lack of transparency are some of the biggest obstacles for Americans.
In the past year, 43% of people who take prescription medications have themselves or their families faced at least one insurance barrier to their care. These experiences range from waiting for an insurer to approve a medicine their doctor prescribed (prior authorization) to the insurer requiring a patient to try a different medicine or not covering a doctor-prescribed medicine at all. This is in the context of 89% who say taking their medications helps them stay healthy.
Thirty-nine percent of Americans report worrying about how to pay if they or their family need health care treatment. Thirty-one percent have avoided going to the doctor because of the cost.
Over two in five Americans (43%) report that they had a difficult time understanding or navigating their health insurance.
Notably, consumers with private insurance are among the most likely to agree that health insurers should publicly share any record they have of denying claims to a group of people or patients with a particular disease (87%) and disclose how often they deny doctor-recommended care (82%). Additionally, 78% of privately insured consumers agree that health insurers should share the savings they negotiate.
Polling finds Americans want health care solutions that encourage institutions across the entire health care system to be transparent and address issues around out-of-pocket costs and affordability.
When asked to pick the top two ideas that would create the most positive personal impact, one in three (33%) believes that placing a cap on the amount health insurers can make patients pay for their deductibles, copays, and other out-of-pocket costs would create a positive impact for them personally. Here, Democratic registered voters (40%) are more likely to see a positive personal impact from this approach than Republican (31%) or independent (34%) registered voters.
Other ideas that people feel would benefit them personally include giving insurers more incentives to keep the costs of health plans manageable for people who are sick and taking prescription medication (17%) and requiring health insurance companies to be more transparent about what medicines are covered and what patients will pay out-of-pocket for prescription medicines (16%).
For complete results, please download the fully annotated questionnaire.
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