Health care is top concern of American families

3-in-10 struggling to maintain current financial situation

Monmouth University Polling Institute, February 7, 2017

Paying for health care has emerged as the top concern of American families, according to the latest national Monmouth University Poll. Two years ago this concern was clustered with job security and other household bills as causing the most anxiety for American households.

Currently, 1-in-4 Americans (25%) report that the cost of health care is the biggest concern facing their family right now. Two years ago, 15% reported this as their family’s primary concern. Anxiety about meeting health care costs now outpaces job and unemployment worries (14%) as well as concerns about paying everyday household bills (12%). Health care is the top concern of American families regardless of income level or partisan identity. A variety of other concerns register in the single digits, such as school costs (4%) and taxes (4%).

“The top three concerns were clustered together just two years ago. Now, health care has jumped to the top of the list as Americans grapple with balancing their household budgets,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch, New Jersey. “It’s also worth noting that issues that have been dominating the news, such as immigration and national security, rank very low on the list of items that keep Americans up at night.”

19. Turning to issues closer to home, what is the biggest concern facing your family right now? [LIST WAS NOT READ]

25% - Health care costs

14% - Job security, unemployment

12% - Everyday bills, groceries, etc.

4% - College tuition, school costs

4% - Taxes

3% - Housing, mortgage, rent

3% - Social Security, seniors

3% - Family illness, health

3% - The economy

3% - Safety, crime

3% - Immigration

3% - Civil rights

2% - Retirement saving

2% - Terrorism, national security

1% - Quality of government

1% - Education policy

1% - Trump as president

1% - Climate change, environment

2% - Other

10% - Don’t know/No answer



By Don McCanne, M.D.

Without being given a list of choices, when asked “what is the biggest concern facing your family right now,” the most common response was “health care costs” (25%). That places this concern well in front of job security (14%) and household bills (12%) with which it was tied two years ago. Although the improvement in the economy has reduced other concerns, health care has become the top concern of American families.

Although the Affordable Care Act did bring improvements, concerns have not been allayed. As the Republicans fumble around with their rhetoric of “replace,” “repair,” and “access,” it becomes ever more clear that they do not have a program that will reduce the health cost burden on most American families. In fact, many of the policies they support will increase the financial burden on individuals and families.

House Speaker Paul Ryan says that they will have a proposal in place by the end of next month. We know that the policies under consideration will not provide individuals with relief from the high costs of health care.

Since health costs are the number one concern of Americans, it is imperative that we intensify our message that the current financing system, even with the Republican tweaks, will leave the public vulnerable to high health care costs. But we have an answer! A well designed single payer national health program - an improved Medicare for all - will ensure that everyone has access to all essential health care services without being burdened by unaffordable premiums or out-of-pocket costs.

For those who would benefit from an elevator speech:  We can pay for it by reducing the profound administrative waste of our fragmented, multi-payer system (the waste of private insurers and the burden they place on the system); we can each afford it by funding the system through equitable tax policies (contributing based on ability to pay), and we can eliminate the perversities of high deductibles and narrow provider networks, eliminating surprise bills while giving us free choices of our health care professionals and hospitals.

Let’s get the word out ASAP. Congress is getting ready to move!