Poll: Americans Want Bold Steps to Keep Health Care Costs in Check

Suggestions include price controls on drugs and hospitals and doctors, importing drugs from other countries

09:00 AM EST Nov 5, 2015 Rating
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Poll: Americans Want Bold Steps to Keep Health Care Costs in Check

By Dennis Thompson

 HealthDay Reporter

New York, N.Y. - (HealthDay News) -- Most Americans now support aggressive regulation to keep health care costs in check -- including price caps on drugs, medical devices and payments to doctors and hospitals, a new HealthDay/Harris Poll has found.

Nearly three of every four Americans (73 percent) want price controls placed on manufacturers of drugs and medical devices, the poll revealed. That's up from 64 percent who favored such controls in a 2014 poll.

A majority also said they'd favor importing cheaper drugs from other countries and allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices.

"Most people want to see a lot of different actions taken to contain health care costs, including government price controls of providers, drugs and devices, and two controversial actions which are currently prohibited -- allowing the importation of drugs from other countries and allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices," said Humphrey Taylor, chairman emeritus of The Harris Poll.

Taylor said public opinion likely has been influenced by recent news of Turing Pharmaceuticals, the drug maker that sparked outrage when it tried to hike the cost of the generic anti-infection drug Daraprim by 5,000 percent -- from $13.50 to $750 per pill.

"Every new headline about big drug prices increases the likelihood that Washington will revisit the issues of drug importation and Medicare negotiating drug prices -- policies fiercely opposed by the industry but strongly favored by the public," he said.

Pharmaceutical companies received the lion's share of blame for the cost of health care, with 65 percent of people blaming them "a lot," the poll found.

About 62 percent put significant blame on insurance companies, and 53 percent put substantial blame on the health care system as a whole.

Only 36 percent put a lot of blame on the Affordable Care Act for health care prices, but responses differed widely based on political party. About 65 percent of Republicans blame the Affordable Care Act (ACA), making the federal health care reform law their top target. Just 13 percent of Democrats blame the ACA, sometimes called Obamacare.

"While many people have seen, heard or read recent reports about large drug prices, and most people think drug companies are to blame for the high cost of care, they also believe that there is a lot of blame to be shared," Taylor said. "The system as a whole, the way providers are paid, doctors, hospitals, and the Affordable Care Act are all seen to be partly responsible."

Regarding specific proposals for containing the cost of care, the poll found that:

Ron Pollack is founding executive director of Families USA, a national health care consumers advocacy group. He said the poll "really confirms the two groups that most consumers are concerned about are pharmaceutical companies and insurers.

"Insurers in years past were often considered the group that people were most worried about and felt badly about. But, it's clear that given the big price tags for medicine, the pharmaceutical industry is becoming a big target for voters, irrespective of party affiliation," Pollack said.

About 71 percent of Democrats polled blame drug companies "a lot" for the high cost of health care, making the industry their main culprit. Fifty-nine percent of Republicans put significant blame on drug companies, their second choice right after the Affordable Care Act at 65 percent.

The drug industry group Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America did not respond to repeated requests from HealthDay for comment on the poll results.

The poll asked whether people had heard of three recent reports involving big increases in drug prices. Most people said they had heard of them, and between 27 percent and 39 percent were either extremely or very familiar with them.

The HealthDay/Harris Poll was conducted online, in English, within the United States between Oct. 14-16 among 2,072 adults. Figures for age, gender, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population.

More information

To learn more about retail drug prices, visit the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

For more details on the poll, click here.


TABLE 1

FEELINGS TOWARDS COST OF HEALTH CARE

By Political Party

“Which of the following describe your feelings about the cost of health care? Please select all that apply.”

Base: U.S. Adults

 

Total

Political Party

Rep.

Dem.

Ind.

%

%

%

%

We should adopt the best parts of the health care systems of other countries

50

35

58

54

The government should do much more to control the cost of health care

50

34

64

46

Hospitals and doctors should be paid based on the quality of care they provide and not just on how much they provide

43

44

42

46

None of these

15

26

9

11

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

 

TABLE 2a

REASONS FOR HIGH COST OF HEALTH CARE

Summary of “A Lot/Some”

“How much are the following to blame for the high cost of health care?”

Base: U.S. Adults

 

Feb-Mar 2015

October 2015

%

%

Pharmaceutical (drug) companies

86

88

The health care system as a whole

86

88

Insurance companies

88

87

Hospitals

77

79

The way we pay doctors and hospitals

76

74

Doctors

62

64

The Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”)

58

58

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

 


TABLE 2b

REASONS FOR HIGH COST OF HEALTH CARE

Summary of “A Lot/Some”

By Political Party 

“How much are the following to blame for the high cost of health care?”

Base: U.S. Adults

 

Total

Political Party

Rep.

Dem.

Ind.

%

%

%

%

Pharmaceutical (drug) companies

88

89

89

88

The health care system as a whole

88

89

88

88

Insurance companies

87

84

89

89

Hospitals

79

81

78

80

The way we pay doctors and hospitals

74

70

75

76

Doctors

64

63

64

64

The Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”)

58

90

32

58

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

 

TABLE 2c

REASONS FOR HIGH COST OF HEALTH CARE

Summary of “A Lot”

By Political Party 

“How much are the following to blame for the high cost of health care?”

Base: U.S. Adults

 

Total

Political Party

Rep.

Dem.

Ind.

%

%

%

%

Pharmaceutical (drug) companies

65

59

71

67

Insurance companies

62

53

67

64

The health care system as a whole

53

52

52

53

Hospitals

37

33

39

37

The Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”)

36

65

13

34

The way we pay doctors and hospitals

35

28

37

37

Doctors

23

20

27

21

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding


TABLE 3a

ATTITUDE TOWARDS HEALTH CARE PRICING – TRENDED

Summary of “Support”

“How much do you support or oppose the following ideas?”

Base: U.S. Adults

 

Feb-Mar 2014

Feb-Mar 2015

October 2015

%

%

%

Price controls or caps on pharmaceutical/medical device manufacturers

64

72

73

Price controls or caps on hospitals

61

68

70

Allowing Medicare to negotiate prices on pharmaceuticals for all insurers

NA

NA

66

Price controls or caps on physician payment

55

60

63

Allowing the import of pharmaceuticals from other countries (i.e., Canada, Mexico) that may be lower cost

NA

NA

56

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding; NA indicates item was not tested in the given wave

 


TABLE 3b

ATTITUDE TOWARDS HEALTH CARE PRICING

Summary of “Support”

By Political Party 

“How much do you support or oppose the following ideas?”

Base: U.S. Adults

 

Total

Political Party

Rep.

Dem.

Ind.

%

%

%

%

Price controls or caps on pharmaceutical/medical device manufacturers

73

66

81

74

Price controls or caps on hospitals

70

64

79

68

Allowing Medicare to negotiate prices on pharmaceuticals for all insurers

66

62

69

70

Price controls or caps on physician payment

63

56

71

63

Allowing the import of pharmaceuticals from other countries (i.e., Canada, Mexico) that may be lower cost

56

57

56

62

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

 

TABLE 4

AWARENESS OF NEWS STORIES

Grid Summary

How aware are you of the following stories in the news over the past year?

Base: U.S. Adults

 

At least heard of it (NET)

Extremely/Very Familiar (NET)

Extremely familiar

Very familiar

Somewhat familiar

Heard of, but not familiar

Never heard of it

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Companies substantially increasing the prices on generic medications

75

33

15

18

27

15

25

Hedge fund manager buys a pharmaceutical (drug) company and increases the price of their drug 5000%

72

39

23

17

20

13

28

Company launches a new pharmaceutical cure, and charges almost $100K for the course of treatment

63

27

13

14

21

15

37

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

 

Methodology 

This HealthDay/Harris Poll was conducted online, in English, within the United States between October 14 and 16, 2015 among 2,072 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online. 

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, The Harris Poll avoids the words “margin of error” as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Poll surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in our panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

The results of this HealthDay/Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of The Harris Poll.

Product and brand names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners.

About The Harris Poll®

Begun in 1963, The Harris Poll is one of the longest running surveys measuring public opinion in the U.S. and is highly regarded throughout the world. The nationally representative polls, conducted primarily online, measure the knowledge, opinions, behaviors and motivations of the general public. New and trended polls on a wide variety of subjects including politics, the economy, healthcare, foreign affairs, science and technology, sports and entertainment, and lifestyles are published weekly. 

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