How Patients Experience the American Health Care System

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The Physicians Foundation’s 2019 Survey of America’s Patients reveals the biggest hurdles facing Americans today in our country’s expensive and hard to navigate health care system. One year out from the 2020 presidential election, the survey finds that health care costs weigh heavily on Americans’ minds and that current presidential candidates are unclear on what patients want. Sadly, the research also shows the opioid epidemic is a daily crisis for too many Americans.

Key Findings

The 2019 Survey of America’s Patients reveals an expensive and hard to navigate system that the average Americans are forced to face daily. Key findings include:

Rising Health Care Costs

  • 73% of Americans are concerned about their ability to pay for medical treatment if they were to get sick or injured and half of Americans say they feel they are one sickness away from being in serious financial trouble.
  • 42% of Americans could afford $500 or less before they would have financial issues.
  • 22% of Americans could afford between $501 and $2,500 before they would have financial issues.
  • 37% of Americans could afford more than $2,500.
  • 84% of Americans say they are concerned about how much health care costs will affect them in the future.
  • 86% of Americans say cost and 72% say waiting for insurance pre-approvals negatively impact patient care.

The Opioid Epidemic Impacts
Most Americans

  • 35% of Americans know someone who has abused or is addicted to opioids.
  • 21% know someone who has died because of opioid use.
  • 60% of Americans believe rehabilitation is an essential health care service, while 45% believe care for substance abuse is essential.
  • 53% of Americans say pharmaceutical companies are most responsible for the opioid epidemic… while two in five (39%) say physicians are most to blame.

The Politics of Health Care

  • 22% of Americans don’t know what single payer health care means at all.
  • 77% cannot agree on one definition.
  • 55% of Americans are more likely to vote for a presidential candidate who advocates for expanding private insurance reforms.
  • 62% of Americans say rising health care costs are due to cost of prescription drugs, while 49% point to hospital costs.

Additional Patient Priorities

  • 92% of patients are satisfied with the relationship they have with their primary care physician.
  • 65% of Americans say the time physicians spend with their patients is limited with 22% saying it’s always limited.
  • 63% of Americans believe physicians have the ability to significantly influence the health care system.
  • 91%, however, believe they should have the ability to significantly influence the health care system.
  • 60% of Americans strongly agree that the physician’s opinion should outweigh the insurance company’s opinion when it comes to health care.
  • 73% of Americans say poverty, income inequality and inadequate social services are a significant reason for America’s high health care spending.
  • 77% of Americans believe hospitals, clinics and doctors should look beyond their patients’ medical needs to see if causes such as food issues, transportation issues and housing concerns are interfering with health issues.
  • 71% feel that the ultimate decisions about their health care should be a collaboration with their physician.
    • 39% feel that insurance companies make the ultimate decisions about their treatment and only 38% feel that the ultimate decision rests in a collaboration with their physician.