Washington DC, September 30, 2021 – A new PhRMA and Ipsos poll finds that there’s initial majority support for the federal government negotiating drug prices to get a lower price on medications that would apply to both Medicare and private insurance. Though, that support is moveable, dipping by double-digits—specifically, between 12 to 51 points—when Americans see a number of arguments both for and against drug price negotiations. Instead, a large majority think that the federal government should provide oversight and incentives to lower prices in the healthcare system rather than acting in a price-setting role when given the option between the two.
Notably, the biggest concern for Americans about the healthcare system is the cost of insurance and premiums, followed closely by the pandemic.
The poll was conducted among 5,029 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 1.6 percentage points at the 95% confidence level for results based on the entire sample of adults.
For Americans, the cost of insurance and premiums ranks as the number one problem facing the American healthcare system (44%), followed close behind by the COVID-19 pandemic (37%).
- After insurance costs and the pandemic, the bureaucracy, inefficiency, and waste in the system (30%), out-of-pocket expenses (28%), and prescription drug costs (26%) are most cited as top concerns.
- Notably, about one in two suburban women feel that insurance costs are the biggest problem in the American healthcare system, six points ahead of all other women on this question.
- Seniors (45%), Democrats (51%), and Black Americans (48%) feel the COVID pandemic is the biggest obstacle with the healthcare system. Black Americans, in particular, (24%) are over twice as likely as white Americans (10%) to feel that a major issue facing the American healthcare system is preparing for the next pandemic.
While majorities of Americans initially favor allowing the federal government to negotiate with drug companies to get a lower price on medications that would apply to Medicare and private insurance, opinion shifts significantly when respondents see various arguments both for and against drug price negotiations.
- Support for negotiation dips by double-digits for each of the 10 arguments shown—ranging from 12 to 51 percentage points.
- A Kaiser Family Foundation poll conducted earlier this year found a similar drop in support for drug price negotiations when respondents were presented with new information on the policy.
- For the full list of arguments presented to respondents, please see the topline.
Support particularly drops when Americans are told that drug price negotiations could limit people’s access to newer prescription medicine, falling from 63% initially supporting drug negotiations to 14% when prompted with this new information.
- A notable dip in support happens among seniors, who show strong initial support for the federal government negotiating prices, with 70% backing this policy. When told that if the federal government negotiates drug prices, it could limit people’s access to newer prescription medicine, seniors’ support drops to 12%. In fact, upon hearing this argument, seniors have the most intense opposition to the measure, with three in five opposing drug price negotiations.
- Democratic support also drops from 77% to 16%, while Hispanic support moves from 67% to 16%.
- Support among Black Americans decreases with the information, but instead of supporting or opposing drug price negotiations, more than two in five Black respondents (43%) hold no opinion, about 10-points ahead of all Americans.
- Notably, about three in five Americans who have had cancer (59%) or a heart attack (62%) solidly oppose drug price negotiations when told that they could limit people’s access to newer prescription medicines, about 10 points ahead of people who haven’t had these health problems.
In contrast, Americans widely prefer that the federal government act in an oversight role, encouraging more competition in the healthcare market rather than function as a price setter.
- When presented with a choice regarding which approach respondents think is the better way for the healthcare system to work in the U.S., about three in four (72%) believe the federal government should provide oversight and incentives to healthcare providers, prescription drug companies, and health insurers to encourage more competition to lower prices in the healthcare system; while 27% think that the federal government should set prices for healthcare services and prescription medicines and determine what services and medicines are covered by private health plans.
- Nearly all seniors (81%) believe that, for the U.S. healthcare system to work better, the federal government should provide oversight and incentives to actors in the system to encourage more competition and lower prices.
- While support drops among different age groups, a decisive majority of younger Americans prefer the option of the federal government taking an oversight role in drug pricing over a price-setting one, with 64% of Americans under the age of 35 holding this view. Similar shares of Democrat (63%), Black (67%), and Hispanic (66%) respondents are of the same opinion.
- Suburban women (76%) are more likely than suburban men (69%) to favor the federal government providing oversight in the healthcare market rather than setting prices.
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Senior Vice President, Public Affairs
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