Poll Identifies Concerns About Rising Costs of Drugs, Health Care Amid Pandemic

June 23, 2020

A new poll by Gallup and West Health found that a majority of Americans have expressed numerous health care system-related concerns, including rising costs of drugs, insurance premiums, and health care in response to COVID-19.

A collaborative poll between Gallup and West Health discovered that nearly 9 in 10 US adults feared that the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) could result in negative developments in the world of health care, with 55% saying they were “very concerned” and 33% saying they were “somewhat concerned” about the potentially rising costs of drugs due to the pandemic.

The same poll found that US adults were also concerned about rising health insurance premiums and the cost of care more generally. Overall, 79% said they were “very” or “somewhat” concerned about the price of their premiums, 84% said they were “very” or “somewhat” concerned about general health care, and 41% responded as being “very concerned” about both.

The study consisted of surveying 1016 US adults to assess public opinion on health care costs. Participants were asked the following questions:

  • How concerned are you that the pharmaceutical industry will take advantage of the current COVID-19 pandemic to increase drug prices?
  • How concerned are you that the care required to treat COVID-19 patients will result in increased health insurance premiums next year?
  • How concerned are you that the US health system will take advantage of the current COVID-19 pandemic to increase the cost of care?

Demographics differed between questions, according to the study data. In regard to the question about rising drug prices, 66% identified as Democrats, 52% identified as Independents, and 49% identified as Republicans. The demographics grew more diverse when the survey gauged concerns about rising costs of health insurance and care generally, as researchers requested information about each participants’ gender, race, and annual household income.

Of these 2 measures, women demonstrated higher percentages of “very concerned” about rising insurance premiums and health care costs (46% and 48%, respectively) than men (37% and 33%, respectively). Nonwhite Americans expressed similar higher percentages of “very concerned” over the same measures than whites, as did those who noted that their annual household income was less than $40,000.

The study noted that Democrats reported the highest levels of concern across all 3 measures.

Support for Government Negotiation of COVID-19 Drug Price

Gallup/West also found that most Americans surveyed, regardless of gender, race, annual household income, and political affiliation, supported the federal government negotiating with drug manufacturers over the price for treating COVID-19. Eighty-eight percent supported negotiation, whereas 11% opposed it.

Rating US Response to COVID-19

Participants were furthermore asked to rate the country’s response to COVID-19 relative to health care spending, using the following scale: “Fair/Poor,” “Good,” and “Excellent/Very good.” The survey accounted for the education of participants, the annual household income, and political identification.

In general, 57% rated the response as “Fair/Poor,” 20% rated it as “Good,” and 23% rated it as “Excellent/Very good.” 72% of participants with postgraduate education said the response was fair or poor, as opposed to 15% who said it was excellent. Finally, 84% of Democrats rated the response as poor, as did 28% of Republicans and 57% of Independents.

Implications

Health care costs are already on the rise, and the West Health/Gallop poll demonstrates a clear intersection between this and the COVID-19 pandemic. Previous polls found that Americans were 14% likely to be unwilling to seek treatment for COVID-19 due to high costs of care. Outside of the virus, another poll established that two-thirds reported an increase in prescription drug costs since 2017, and 23% said they lacked the money needed to pay for them.

Such concerns, in addition to fear of infection or job loss, may shape future policy for elected officials. West Health/Gallop posits that officials may consider decisions designed to assuage these concerns.

References

  1. Witters, Dan. Nine in 10 Concerned About Rising Drug Costs Due to COVID-19. Gallop. Published June 18, 20202. Accessed June 22, 2020. https://news.gallup.com/poll/312641/nine-concerned-rising-drug-costs-due-covid.aspx