Economy

Majority of Americans Satisfied With Their Healthcare Plans

by Jeffrey M. Jones

Including costs, coverage, and quality of care they receive

PRINCETON, NJ -- Despite ever-increasing healthcare costs and widespread dissatisfaction with the U.S. healthcare system, a majority of Americans remain satisfied with what they pay for their own healthcare, the quality of the healthcare they receive, and their healthcare coverage.

Gallup's annual Healthcare survey, conducted Nov. 11-14, finds 57% of Americans saying they are satisfied with the total cost they pay for their healthcare, while 39% are dissatisfied. These percentages have been quite stable in recent years, after a slight dip in reported satisfaction between 2001 (64%) and 2002 (58%).

That stability is somewhat at odds with other recent trends in the poll. For example, of the roughly 6 in 10 Americans who have private health insurance plans, a shrinking number report that that their employers pay their full premiums. In 2001, 24% said their employers paid the full premium; now, just 15% do. During that time, there has been an increase in the percentage saying the premiums are shared between themselves and their employers.

Also, among those who pay some or all of their healthcare premiums, a majority have consistently said they are paying more for their healthcare than they did a year ago. In the latest poll, 26% say their costs have gone up "a lot" in the past year, and 43% say "a little."

One reason this inconsistency may exist is that Americans are quite happy with their health plans. Eighty-three percent of Americans rate the quality of healthcare they receive as excellent or good, while only 15% say theirs is poor. Slightly less, 70%, say their healthcare coverage is excellent or good. These ratings have been fairly stable in the seven years in which Gallup's Healthcare survey has been conducted.

Implications

Americans may express a desire for changing the U.S. healthcare system but a perhaps surprisingly large number are content with the health insurance and health coverage they currently have. In 1993 and 1994, opponents of Bill and Hillary Clinton's healthcare plan used this to their advantage to help defeat those efforts by suggesting that the reforms would force people to give up their current insurance. Now, more than a decade later, healthcare again rates as one of the top issues in the presidential campaign. But most presidential hopefuls, including Hillary Clinton herself, are proposing reform plans that allow Americans to keep what they have, while attempting to provide more affordable options for those who lack insurance or cannot easily afford it. The data reviewed here suggest that would be a reasonable approach.

Survey Methods

These results are based on telephone interviews with a randomly selected national sample of 1,004 adults, aged 18 and older, conducted Nov. 11-14, 2007. For results based on this sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum error attributable to sampling and other random effects is ±3 percentage points. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

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