WASHINGTON (AP) — When Emmanuel Obeng-Dankwa worries about making rent on his New York apartment, he sometimes stops to refill his blood pressure medication.
“If there’s no money, I’d rather skip medication to be homeless,” said Obeng-Dankwa, a 58-year-old security guard.
He is among a majority of US adults who say health care is not well handled in the country, according to a new poll by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.
READ MORE: Democrats don’t see the economy like everyone else right now
The poll finds that public satisfaction with the US health care system is extremely low, with less than half of Americans saying it is generally well treated. Only 12% say they are treated extremely or very well. Americans have similar views on health care for the elderly.
Overall, the public gives even lower marks for how prescription drug costs, quality of care in nursing homes and mental health care are being handled, with only 6% or less saying these health services are being very well in place.
“Navigating the American health care system is extremely frustrating,” said A. Mark Fendrick, director of the University of Michigan’s Center for Value-Based Insurance Design. “The COVID pandemic has only made it worse.”
More than two years after the pandemic began, health care worker burnout and understaffing are plaguing hospitals across the country. And Americans still have trouble getting in-person medical care after health centers imposed restrictions after COVID-19 killed and sickened millions of people nationwide, Fendrick said.
In fact, the poll shows an overwhelming majority of Americans, nearly 8 in 10, say they are at least moderately concerned about having access to quality health care when they need it.
Black and Hispanic adults in particular are extremely concerned about accessing health care, with nearly 6 in 10 saying they are very or extremely concerned about getting good care. Less than half of white adults, 44%, expressed the same level of concern.
Racial disparities have long plagued America’s health care system. They have been very clear during the COVID-19 pandemic, with people of color and Hispanics disproportionately dying from the virus. Black and Hispanic men also account for a disproportionately high rate of recent monkeypox infections.
Fifty-three percent of women said they are extremely or very concerned about receiving quality care, compared to 42% of men.
While Americans are united in their dissatisfaction with the health care system, that agreement falls apart when it comes to solutions to fix it.
About two-thirds of adults think it is the federal government’s responsibility to make sure all Americans have health care coverage, with adults ages 18 to 49 more likely than those over 50 to have it view. The percentage of people who believe that health care coverage is a government responsibility has increased in recent years, rising from 57% in 2019 and 62% in 2017.
However, there is no consensus on how to provide that coverage.
About 4 in 10 Americans say they support a single-payer health care system that would require Americans to get their health insurance from a government plan. More, 58%, say they favor a government health insurance plan that anyone can buy.
There is also widespread support for policies that would help Americans pay for long-term care costs, including a government-administered insurance plan similar to Medicare, the federal government’s health insurance for people 65 and older.
READ MORE: In St
Retired nurse Pennie Wright, of Camden, Tennessee, doesn’t like the idea of a government-run health care system.
After switching to Medicare this year, she was surprised to be left with her annual well-woman visit, once fully covered by her private insurance plan, with $200 fees for a mammogram and a Pap test.
She prefers the flexibility she had in her private insurance plan.
“I feel like we have the best health care system in the world, we have a choice where we want to go,” Wright said.
A majority of Americans, roughly two-thirds, were happy to see the government step in to provide free testing, vaccines and treatment for COVID-19. About 2 in 10 were neutral about the government’s response.
Government funding for free tests for COVID-19 was cut earlier this month. And while the White House says the last batch of recommended COVID-19 boosters will be free to anyone who wants one, it doesn’t have the money on hand to buy any future rounds of booster shots for every American.
Eighty percent say they support the federal government’s negotiations for lower drug prices. President Joe Biden this summer signed a landmark bill that allows Medicare to negotiate the price of prescription drugs. The move is expected to save taxpayers up to $100 billion over the next decade.
“The cost of medication should be low, at a minimum, so that everyone can afford it,” said Obeng-Dankwa, the Bronx renter who is struggling to pay for his medication. “Those who are poor should be able to get all the necessary health care they need, the same way someone who also has the money to pay for it.”
AP poll reporter Hannah Fingerhut in Washington contributed to this report.
The survey of 1,505 adults was conducted July 28-Aug. 1 using a sample drawn from NORC’s probability-based AmeriSpeak panel, which is designed to be representative of the US population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.6 percentage points.