How Americans view healthcare, racism a year after pandemic

A year after the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Americans' views on healthcare and racial equity have shifted modestly, but meaningfully, according to new research released March 31.

The Commonwealth Fund, a healthcare policy research firm, and experts from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health studied trends in Americans’ views on healthcare and racial equity, selecting nearly 20 polls that included similar questions fielded before and after the pandemic started. The analysis included questions from a 2019 Commonwealth Fund/New York Times/Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health 2019 survey repeated near the end of last year.

Four findings, based on the research:

1. Americans are increasingly concerned about racism. A Gallup poll published in June 2020 found more Americans cited racism and race relations as the most important problem facing the U.S. (19 percent) than at any time since July 1968 (20 percent).

2. American confidence in the healthcare system increased in 2020. A Gallup poll found that 36 percent of the public reported confidence in the U.S. health system in 2019. In 2020, the Commonwealth Fund/ Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health survey found public confidence increased to 51 percent.  

3. Americans are divided on national health insurance reform. The Commonwealth Fund/Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health survey in 2020 found 58 percent of Americans support the principle of universal coverage but don't agree on the path forward. Some are behind a system based mostly on private health insurance (47 percent), and others are in favor of a government-run system (46 percent).

4. A greater proportion of Americans support more federal government spending to prevent the spread of infectious diseases. Researchers with Commonwealth Fund/Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health said their 2020 survey found 67 percent of the public said they support this, while a study published in Health Affairs found 54 percent did in 2009.

Read more about the survey findings here.


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