Americans see fewer problems in the US healthcare system

Americans are feeling slightly more optimistic about the U.S. healthcare system, according to the latest Gallup poll that found fewer described the system as having major problems.

The Dec. 2 poll was one of the least negative assessments of the U.S. healthcare system since 1994, according to Gallup.

However, the overall viewpoint was still negative, with 14% of Americans describing the healthcare system as in a “state of crisis” and 49% describing “major problems." That comes out to 63% rating the system negatively. Another 37% of Americans described the system as having minor problems or as not having any problems in the latest poll––the highest figure since 1994. By comparison, 69% of Americans described the system the same way in 1994. Last year, 70% of Americans described the system as being in a state of crisis or having major problems.

The poll, published Dec. 2, was conducted between Nov. 1 and Nov. 14. Americans’ negative sentiments about the healthcare system have generally ranged between 60% and 70% across four presidencies. Despite the Affordable Care Act’s impact of a lowered uninsured rate and expanded coverage for pre-existing conditions, partisan reactions have kept negative ratings.

In 2001, Americans’ view of the American healthcare system diverged from averages immediately following the September 11 terrorist attacks. At that time, the negative rating dropped to 49%, when Americans were “temporarily more positive on a variety of measures,” Gallup noted.

Viewpoints on the American healthcare system diverge between political parties, with Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents generally viewing it more negatively than Republicans and Republican-leaning independents over the past few years. In the latest poll, 77% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents rated the system negatively, down from 84% in 2018. Republicans’ negative ratings are at their lowest point since 2001 after peaking at 80% in 2016. In 2019, 48% rated the system negatively.