Most Americans want government interference on drug prices

Sky-high drug prices are a huge issue for many Americans who can’t pay for necessary medications, and 78% feel the federal government should be able to negotiate better prices.

That’s according to a survey of 3,760 adults conducted by the Transamerica Center for Health Studies.

Of concern, nearly a quarter of Americans said they purposely didn’t take medications as prescribed over the last year due to high cost.

While costs were a top concern, most said they were very or somewhat satisfied with the quality of their healthcare. More than 40% of Americans had a positive impression of the Affordable Care Act, which is mostly consistent since 2017.

The survey results come at a time when the ACA is facing its biggest legal challenge to date after a federal judge declared the entire healthcare law unconstitutional last year. Democrats have since appealed the decision, which came after a Republican-launched lawsuit to overturn the ACA was successful and not defended by the Department of Justice or the Trump administration.

Drug prices in particular have become a hot-button issue as the 2020 election approaches. President Trump has issued a handful of executive orders aimed at reducing drug prices by improving transparency, though drug prices still rose in 2019. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) also recently introduced a drug pricing plan that would allow the federal government to negotiate prices in certain cases.

Overall, about one-third of Americans (32%) said being able to pay for their care is the most important part of the healthcare system. And the affordability factor is impacting health, as 27% said they’ve canceled a medical appointment due to expected costs. This was higher among Latinos (37%), Millennials (31%) and Gen Z (33%).

“Health costs can be very expensive, particularly for the 66% of Americans reporting a physical or mental health condition,” Hector De La Torre, executive director of TCHS, said in a statement. “Even for those without a health condition, there is always a concern that they or their loved ones may someday require healthcare that can devastate their finances.”

Fortunately, there are some bright spots regarding affordability, as fewer Americans saw their healthcare premium costs rise in 2019 compared to 2018––30% compared to 35%, respectively, as well as deductible costs––26% in 2019 compared to 29% in 2018.

Americans are also likely to say they have to keep their job for insurance purposes, and 30% said they left a previous job because the company didn’t offer health insurance and health benefits.

“With healthcare in the U.S. adapting to the ACA over several years, followed by uncertainty due to attempts to repeal and replace it, and then elimination of the individual mandate requiring Americans to have health insurance in 2018, consumers are understandably cautious as they try to keep or find employer-based health coverage,” De La Torre said.