Commonwealth Fund Survey Finds Americans' Concerns Over Healthcare Costs Growing

May 12, 2018
Samantha DiGrande

This week, the Commonwealth Fund released new findings from its Affordable Care Act Tracking Survey. The survey is a nationally representative telephone poll that tracks coverage rates among 19- to 64-year olds.

This week, the Commonwealth Fund released new findings from its Affordable Care Act Tracking Survey. The survey is a nationally representative telephone poll that tracks coverage rates among 19- to 64-year olds. The newest findings were from the February to March period of the survey, during which 2403 individuals were polled.

Respondents continue to worry about healthcare costs on all fronts, from general medical bills to the high cost of prescription drugs. When asked if they would have the money to pay $1000 medical bill within 30 days in the case of an unexpected medical emergency, nearly half (46%) of respondents said they would not have the money to cover such a bill in that timeframe.

Specifically, women, people of color, people who are uninsured, those with incomes under 250% of the poverty line ($30,150 for an individual), and those covered by Medicare or Medicaid were among the most likely to say they couldn’t pay the bill.

When participants were asked if whether over the past year their healthcare (including prescription drugs) had become harder to afford, easier to afford, or if there had been no change, the majority (66%) said there had been no change. However, people with individual market coverage were significantly more likely than those with employer coverage or Medicaid to say that healthcare had become harder to afford (24%). Of people polled, only 8% said healthcare had become easier to afford.

Finally, when asked if they were confident in their ability to afford healthcare if they were to become seriously ill, 62.4% of adults said they were very or somewhat confident that they could afford these costs, down from nearly 70% in 2015. There were also significant declines in confidence among young adults, women, those aged 50 to 64, and people with health problems.

In an effort to address growing concerns about the cost of drug prices in particular, President Donald Trump and HHS Secretary Alex Azar spoke jointly on Friday, April 11, providing an overview of a comprehensive blueprint HHS released to lower high drug prices in the United States.

“The blueprint is a sophisticated approach to reforming and improving this complex system…[but] this is not a one-and-done deal,” said Azar. “It is a comprehensive process, and as the president said, it will take time to reorder an entire complex multibillion-dollar system.”