March 21, 2019 Blog

Top Health Care Concerns for 2019, As Decided By You

A new JAMA Forum article, “Doing Health Reform Better: Listening to the Public” highlights the importance of engaging the public around health care issues and solutions, and provides key learnings from a recent experiment.

 

At the end of 2018, United States of Care’s Board Chair, Andy Slavitt, put out a call on Twitter for people to share the health concerns that are most common among their friends and family, and that they most want solutions to.

 

More than 200 people responded, and while we recognize that Twitter feeds are far from a scientifically representative sample of the population, the results provide valuable insight on how people with different experiences and priorities can still find common ground in conversations about health care.

 

Unsurprisingly, costs emerged as a major concern, with more than a third of respondents mentioning some form of difficulty paying for health care. Two specific issues rose to the top – paying for prescription drugs and dental care – but otherwise, comments about cost covered a wide range of scenarios, from emergency care to high deductibles to out of network costs.

 

 

 

This variation shows the many drivers of health care costs, and how addressing this issue requires a multi-pronged approach. It also indicates that we can unite around the need to lower health care costs, even if we differ on which costs need to be addressed first.

 

 

Another common thread that emerged from these comments is that people are more concerned about general issues than specific ones. For example, while many individuals expressed concerns about affording and navigating their insurance, only a few mentioned specific programs, such as Medicare, Medicaid, or ACA Marketplace coverage.

What we take from this is that Americans are more concerned about the impact that policies have on themselves and their loved ones, as opposed to ideological motivations or getting into the weeds on the policy details needed to achieve their desired outcome. We believe that this could indicate a disconnect between the way policymakers and voters talk about health care – and a need for strategies to bridge that gap.

 

 

Finally, these responses show that health care does not exist in a vacuum. Many responses mentioned education, child care, nutrition, employment, and the environment as key issues related to health care. It is imperative that any health care solutions also address the broader social context in which they occur.

 

 

United States of Care is committed to putting people over politics, and harnessing public opinion to shape policies that reflect the hopes and concerns of the majority of Americans. To stay updated on our work, be sure to subscribe to our news updates and follow us on Twitter.