Don’t like our healthcare system? Tough

New survey data released Monday shows just 12% of Americans think healthcare in the United States is handled “extremely” or “very” well, further evidence of the deep unpopularity of a profit-driven system that has left roughly 30 million without insurance coverage and contributed to the country’s stunning decline in life expectancy.

The new Associated Press/NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll finds that 56% of the U.S. public believe healthcare, in general, is handled “not too well” or “not at all well,” while 32% believe healthcare is dealt with “somewhat well.” In all, just 1 in 10 Americans feels the U.S. healthcare system and healthcare for older adults are handled well or exceptionally well.

“The poll reveals that public satisfaction with the U.S. healthcare system is remarkably low, with fewer than half of Americans saying it is generally handled well,” AP notes. “The poll shows an overwhelming majority of Americans, nearly 8 in 10, say they are at least moderately concerned about getting access to quality healthcare when they need it.”

The survey also showed 40% support for a “single-payer healthcare system that would require Americans to get their health insurance from a government plan.” Depending on how the question is framed and phrased, single-payer—more commonly called Medicare for All—has polled as high as 70% support.

According to the AP-NORC survey, 58% “say they favor a government health insurance plan that anyone can purchase”—a public option.

Surprised? You shouldn’t be. Patients with chronic health problems know what it’s like to “enter the system.” A cancer patient recently told me, “you lose control of your life and have a bunch of appointments where you’re treated as just another person, not an individual.”

Unfortunately, it’s going to cost more too. Current forecasts from the asset management firm Mercer suggest health benefit costs will increase by 5.6 percent per employee in the next year, up from the 4.4 percent rise projected in 2022. Though high inflation contributes to health pricing, Mercer suspects employers and consumers have yet to feel inflation’s full brunt on health benefits due to multi-year contracts.

The data shows that high-cost specialty drugs are one of the most common expense issues. Nearly a quarter of employers (22 percent) looped in containment measures, such as mandatory generics for their prescription drug plans.

Health care inflation isn’t exactly a new trend–health spending hit $74.1 billion in 1970, while expenditures touched $1.4 trillion in 2000, according to an analysis from the Peterson Center on Healthcare and the Kaiser Family Foundation. The same trend is seen in plan costs. The average price of an employer-sponsored health plan climbed 6.3 percent in 2021, nearly double that of the 3.4 percent uptick seen in 2020. That spike was also the most significant annual cost increase since 2010.

Will healthcare ever be a genuinely consumer-generated business? It could be. Already we’re seeing more reviews of doctors and medical facilities, and more patients are choosing what medications they receive based on cost and side effects.