A survey from Transamerica Center for Health Studies shows Americans are satisfied with the quality of their healthcare, but many believe it's not affordable

Americans are concerned about the affordability of healthcare and prescription drugs

Americans are largely positive about quality of healthcare since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) came into force, but many have concerns about how much it costs, according to a new study.

The Transamerica Center for Health Studies (TCHS) found 84% of Americans are “very” or “somewhat” satisfied with the quality of their healthcare — but 27% admit they’ve cancelled a medical appointment due to expected costs.

Executive director of the non-profit healthcare body Hector De La Torre said: “Health costs can be very expensive, particularly for the 66% of Americans reporting a physical or mental health condition.

affordable healthcare
TCHS executive director Hector De La Torre believes reforms made to the ACA have brought uncertainty to consumers (Credit: TCHS)

“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.

He pointed towards the health insurance industry adapting to the ACA since 2014, and uncertainty brought by attempts to repeal and replace it, as reasons for the affordability concerns.


Americans fear removal of employer mandated affordable healthcare

One key concern highlighted by TCHS was the removal of the employer mandate — an ACA provision that forces employers to offer affordable health insurance to 95% of their full-time employees and their children, up to the age of 26.

“Consumers are understandably cautious as they try to keep or find employer-based health coverage,” De La Torre said.

The survey of 3,760 adults aged 18 to 64 found 30% had left a previous job because the company did not offer any health insurance and health benefits.

A related finding showed half of employed adults agreed they must stay at their current job for the health insurance, while 22% said they strongly agreed — an increase from 18% in 2018.


Affordability the main concern for consumers

Since TCHS started conducting its annual survey in 2012, affordability of health insurance has been the main concern for consumers, and it remains the most important characteristics of a policy today.

According to this year’s survey, 32% prioritised being able to pay for necessary care and 28% rated being seen in a timely manner as the most important part of their plan.

Among those without health insurance, 24% opted not to buy a policy due to cost, and 23% didn’t enrol in their employer’s health plan.

The ACA mandates that employers with more than 50 staff must provide an affordable self-only plan that covers 60% of costs and doesn’t exceed 10% of an employee’s household income.


Prescription medication costs high on the list of concerns

Another affordability concern was found to be prescription drugs, with one in five adults claiming to have experienced difficulty affording medication in the past six months — up from the 17% recorded in 2018.

When asked who is responsible for high prescription drug prices, 78% blamed pharmaceutical companies, while 59% targeted insurance companies.

Since 2014, the number of adults indicating they are saving for healthcare expenses in a Flexible Spending Account (FSA), Health Savings Account (HSA), or bank account has increased from 22% to 33%.

In its report, TCHS drew a correlation between this number and the 37% of adults that reported they’d been hit by an unexpected bill they thought was covered their policy.