COVID-19 has not changed how Americans view our health care system

Jun 9, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic closed U.S. society, challenged hospitals and providers, and to date has taken over 100,000 American lives. The question is whether the experience over the past three months has caused Americans to re-think our health care delivery system. The most recent poll found that people do not want the U.S. medical system to change. (here)

The University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy and the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research surveyed just over 1,000 people in February and then again in May, 2020. The researchers used telephone and online interviews for both surveys.

Opinions on the U.S. health care system remained remarkably stable from February to May:

  • Improving the quality of health care – 62% favor the private sector vs 36% favor the government
  • Providing health insurance – 53% private vs 44% government
  • Driving innovation in health care – 70% private vs 28% government
  • Reducing health care costs – 54% government  vs 44% private

Several concerns about the U.S. health care system actually dropped from February to May:

  • Losing or not having health insurance – 28% February to 19% May
  • The amount people spent on health care – 44% February to 35% May
  • Having access to quality health care – 58% February to 46% May

Although this is only one survey of a relatively small number of people, it is clear that Americans are basically happy with the current health care system. They also seem to be confident that the pandemic showed that the system can handle their health care needs.

The researchers didn’t ask about health care reforms, but the results reveal that people are satisfied with the role of the private sector in the current health care system. Reforms should be based on this confidence, not on more government intrusion into the U.S. health care system.