More than half of Americans today rate the quality of U.S. health care as subpar, according to a new Gallup poll. More than 1 in 5 call it “poor.”
That represents a remarkable reversal in public opinion. Just 10 years ago, nearly two-thirds of Americans praised the quality of care.
Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised. Wait times to see a doctor are 24% longer than they were two decades ago. The average wait last year was 26 days. And U.S. health outcomes are trending worse. Life expectancy at birth is just 77 years, the lowest figure among high-income countries. Americans also suffer from multiple chronic diseases at a rate greater than their peers.
But the No. 1 driver of frustration with the U.S. health care system isn’t either of these factors. It’s the price tag. Per the Gallup poll, more than 75% of Americans say they’re dissatisfied with the total cost of health care. Fueling their vexation is the fact that out-of-pocket spending keeps climbing. It grew by 10.4% in 2021, the fastest rate since 1985.