Confidence in the Future of Health Care

Americans reveal a relatively low confidence level about the future of health care, and particularly in their ability to afford that care.

Confidence in Health Care's Future Is Low

  • Americans are least confident that they will be able to afford medical care and that they will have adequate freedom to choose their own medical providers. Only about one-quarter express a high degree of confidence about these two aspects of care.
  • About one-third of Americans are confident that they will be able to get the treatments they need and will have access to quality care over the next 10 years. However, significant proportions (around 40 percent) are only somewhat confident about these aspects.
  Extremely or Somewhat Not
Aspect of Care Over the Next 10 Years Very Confident Confident Confident
Able to get the treatments you need 35% 42% 22%
Access to quality health care 33 40 25
Enough freedom to choose who provides your medical care 28 34 36
Able to afford health care without suffering financial hardship 22 34 41

Confidence Varies by Age and Income

Overall, middle-aged Americans (ages 35-54) are less confident than Americans ages 20-34 in health care over the next 10 years. In addition, low-income Americans (those earning less than $30,000) are less confident in the future of health care than higher income Americans ($50,000 or more).

The Mid-Life Health Care Crisis

  • Twice as many middle-aged Americans as younger Americans are not confident they will have access to quality health care in the next 10 years (30 percent v. 15 percent).
  • One-quarter of middle-aged Americans are not confident they will be able to get the treatments they need in the next 10 years. Among younger Americans, 16 percent are not confident.
  • More than 4 in 10 middle-aged Americans are not confident they will be able to afford health care or that they will have the freedom to choose a provider in the next 10 years (47 percent and 44 percent, respectively). Only about 3 in 10 younger Americans are not confident about these aspects of care (34 percent on affordability and 30 percent on freedom of choice).

Income

  • Nearly one-half of Americans with lower incomes are not confident that they will be able to afford health care without facing financial hardship (49 percent). Only 1 in 3 high-income Americans shares this concern (31 percent).
  • Twenty-six percent of lower income Americans are not confident they will be able to get the treatments they need in the next 10 years, while just 19 percent of high-income Americans feel the same.
  • Twenty-nine percent of lower income Americans are not confident they will have access to quality health care in the next 10 years, compared with 21 percent of higher-income Americans.

Source: 1998 Health Confidence Survey.