Americans rate their healthcare system as poor or failing

The “news”: Americans aren’t happy with healthcare, yet another survey shows. The 2022 Healthcare in America Report from West Health-Gallup asked 5,584 US adults to grade the system overall, and on access, cost, equity, and quality of care.

  • Grades = A (excellent), B (good), C (satisfactory), D (poor), and F (fail).

Digging into the data: You wouldn’t want to bring home a report card this bad.

The average grades were:

  • Overall healthcare system: C-. Just 4% gave this area an A and 44% gave it a combined D+F.
  • Cost of care: D-. Just 1% gave it an A and 75% gave it a combined D+F.
  • Equitable care: D+. Just 8% gave an A and 56% gave it a combined D+F.
  • Access to care: C. Just 9% gave it an A and 38% gave it a combined D+F.
  • Quality of care: C+. 12% gave an A and 17% gave it a combined D+F.

Data demographics: Ratings of equity, access, and quality of care differed by gender and race/ethnicity.

  • Women are more likely than men to give D or F grades to each of those factors.
  • Black and Asian Americans are more likely than white or Hispanic Americans to give D or F grades for equity.
  • People of color are more likely than white Americans to grade access to care as a D or F.
  • Black and Hispanic Americans are more likely to grade quality of care as a D or F.

Zooming in: It’s not just lower-income earners or certain demographic groups feeling the pain of high costs. More than 72% of respondents from all income levels—even $180,000+ households—said healthcare affordability was a serious issue.

  • 27%, representing about 70 million adults, said they wouldn’t be able to afford quality care today, even if they needed it.
  • Women (55%) aren’t confident they can pay for healthcare as they age.
  • 17% have cut back on services or medicine in the past 12 months to pay for other household expenses—including 24% of Hispanic Americans and 23% of Black Americans.

Our take: The consequences of these failures are real and are being felt by many stakeholders, as sicker patients show up and require more care.

  • Adjusted patient days (the number of days in the hospital) increased 14.7% compared with 2020, per Kaufman Hall’s latest National Hospital Flash Report.
  • And emergency department visits rose 19.3% over 2020, while operating room minutes increased 6.8%.

Americans give the US Congress a failing grade, too. In a separate West Health-Gallup survey, 94% have little or no confidence that their elected members will do anything about the system in the next 12 months. If ever.

"Behind the Numbers" Podcast