The US Healthcare System is Failing Patients: Here’s What We Can Do About It

US Medical care illustrated by flag and stethoscope

More than 70% of U.S. adults feel the healthcare system is failing to meet their needs in at least one way, according to new data from the Harris Poll. Only 27% of the survey participants said the U.S. medical system meets all their needs.

Despite spending more per capita on health care than any other wealthy country, the U.S. struggles to match other nations’ life expectancy and different health outcomes. The new Harris Poll survey, conducted from February to March 2023 and commissioned by the American Academy of Physician Associates, shows that patient satisfaction also suffers due to the high costs, inaccessibility, and confusing logistics of U.S. medical care.

Only 27% of people who took the survey said the U.S. medical system meets all of their needs, while the rest listed complaints including how long it takes to get an appointment (31% of respondents), high costs (26%), limitations of insurance coverage (23%), and subpar focus on preventive care and wellness (19%).

The survey did, however, suggest some bright spots and paths forward. More than 75% of survey participants said that providers work with them to improve their health, more than 70% said they want more robust relationships with their providers, and more than 65% said they believe their health would improve if they regularly worked with a trusted provider—responses that suggest Americans haven’t given up on the system, despite their frustrations.

What causes the dissatisfaction?

  • High costs: The US spends more on healthcare than any other developed country, but we have worse health outcomes. In 2020, the average American family spent $11,582 on healthcare costs, which will only increase.
  • Inadequate access: Millions of Americans are uninsured or underinsured, which means they can’t afford the care they need. In 2020, an estimated 28.0 million people in the US were uninsured.
  • Poor quality: The US healthcare system is not as efficient or effective as it could be. There are too many errors and delays, and patients often don’t get the care they need when they need it.
  • Uneven distribution of care: The best healthcare is often concentrated in urban areas, leaving rural and underserved communities with fewer options.

These problems are having a real impact on patients’ lives. People are dying because they can’t afford the care they need, and others are suffering from preventable illnesses because they can’t get the care they need when they need it. The US healthcare system requires significant reform, and we must act now to fix it.

Here are some of the things that we can do to improve the US healthcare system:

  • Expand access to affordable healthcare: This could be done by expanding Medicaid, creating a public option for health insurance, or providing subsidies to help people afford private health insurance.
  • Improve the quality of care: This could be done by reducing errors and delays, improving care coordination, and investing in preventive care.
  • Make healthcare more affordable: This could be done by negotiating lower drug prices, reducing administrative costs, and increasing competition in the healthcare market.
  • Ensure that everyone has access to quality care, regardless of where they live: This could be done by investing in rural healthcare infrastructure and expanding telehealth services.

We need to take action now to fix the US healthcare system. The lives of millions of Americans depend on it.