Americans' No. 1 priority for healthcare? Affordability

When it comes to healthcare, affordability of medical costs topped Americans' list of priorities, according to a report from Public Agenda's Hidden Common Ground Initiative.

For the report, researchers studied three focus groups in September, totaling 30 Americans in urban Hamilton County, Ohio; rural Franklin County, Mo.; and suburban Suffolk County, N.Y.

Study participants identified affordability as their top healthcare priority.

"In recent years, a majority of Americans, regardless of party identification, say making healthcare affordable to individuals and families should be the top healthcare priority for the president and Congress," the report states, citing Kaiser Family Foundation data. "This sentiment emerged immediately in our groups as people reflected on the healthcare system and their experiences with it. They shared stories about facing expensive medical bills, paying for pricey prescriptions and covering burdensome co-pays, premiums and deductibles. They were ardent and forthright about how the high cost of healthcare affected their lives and their families."

As one uninsured woman in her 30s put it: "The prices keep going up, and our paycheck stays the same."

Researchers said participants also reported greater concern about healthcare affordability than government healthcare spending.

"While some of our participants voiced concerns about waste and inefficiency, most viewed high healthcare spending by government as of little concern — or even as a sign of well-placed priorities — rather than as a fiscal red flag," the report stated.

In addition to affordability, Americans also ranked simplicity and transparency high among their healthcare priorities. The focus groups generally agreed more oversight of healthcare prices is needed, and everyone should have coverage or access to healthcare.

Read more about the findings here


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