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Americans Satisfied With How Health System Works for Them

Americans Satisfied With How Health System Works for Them

by Rebecca Riffkin

Story Highlights

  • Two in three satisfied with how health system works for them
  • Uninsured much less likely than insured to be satisfied
  • Satisfaction consistent since tracking began in March

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Over the last seven and a half months, two-thirds of Americans, on average, have been satisfied with how the healthcare system is working for them. Less than a week before the health insurance exchanges reopen, these results show that Americans who have health insurance (70%) are almost twice as likely as those who don't (37%) to be satisfied with the healthcare system.

Are you satisfied or dissatisfied with how the healthcare system is working for you? 2014 results

In the third quarter of 2014, the uninsured rate in the U.S. was 13.4%, the lowest quarterly average Gallup has found in daily measurement of this metric going back to 2008. The health insurance exchanges open again on Nov. 15 to enable those who are uninsured to shop for insurance coverage for 2015. If more Americans gain health insurance, general satisfaction with the way the system is working may rise, given that insured Americans are much more likely to be satisfied than the uninsured are.

Monthly averages of Americans' satisfaction with how the healthcare system works for them have been largely consistent since daily tracking began toward the end of March. In April, average monthly satisfaction was highest at 67%, while several months, including May, September and October, tied for lowest, at 65% satisfied.

Gallup has previously found that Americans' level of satisfaction with the healthcare system partly depends on their party identification. Currently, about three in four Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents are satisfied with their healthcare situation, compared with 60% of Republicans and Republican leaners.

Democrats More Satisfied With Healthcare System Than Republicans, 2014 results

Americans younger than age 30 are more likely to be satisfied with how the healthcare system works for them than Americans aged 30 to 64, but Americans 65 and older are the age group most likely to be satisfied, at 79%. Americans at higher income levels are also more likely to be satisfied. Among Americans with annual household incomes of $90,000 or more, 70% are satisfied. This drops to 62% among Americans with annual household incomes under $36,000.

Satisfaction With U.S. Healthcare System Varies Among Demographic Groups, 2014 results

Younger and older Americans' greater likelihood to be satisfied may be a result of the unique coverage experiences among those groups. Older Americans can qualify for Medicare health insurance and have high rates of being insured, which helps explain their overall higher levels of satisfaction. And the Affordable Care Act expanded coverage to many young Americans by allowing them to be covered under their parents' health insurance until age 26. However, Americans aged 26 to 34 are the least likely to be insured, which could be affecting this group's satisfaction rates.

The differences in satisfaction across age and racial/ethnic groups most likely reflect their political orientation. Non-Hispanic white Americans -- the racial group least likely to be satisfied, at 64% -- are more likely than other races to be or lean Republican. Among blacks, who are largely Democratic, 73% are satisfied. Past Gallup research has found that while most Asians have health insurance, they often lack a personal doctor. Seven in 10 Asians are satisfied with how the healthcare system works for them, and they are more likely to be Democrats than Republicans.

One of the major goals of the Affordable Care Act was to expand health insurance coverage among Hispanics. Gallup has found that only 65% of Hispanics have health insurance, compared with 90% of non-Hispanic whites. Satisfaction among Hispanics is slightly lower than what is seen among blacks and Asians, at 68% satisfied. Hispanics are also more likely to lean Democratic than Republican.

Bottom Line

Last year, the health insurance exchanges first opened to a wave of technical problems but ultimately were credited with helping millions of previously uninsured Americans gain health insurance. However, the Affordable Care Act remains unpopular among the American people. In October, Gallup found that more Americans say the law has hurt them, rather than helped them. On Nov. 15 the exchanges will open again, allowing Americans to purchase healthcare coverage for 2015.

At this time, two-thirds of Americans are satisfied with how the U.S. healthcare system works for them. With the insured generally much more likely to be satisfied than the uninsured, it is possible that -- if the uninsured rate continues to decline -- overall satisfaction with the way the healthcare system is treating Americans will increase in the months ahead.

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted March 21-Oct. 31, 2014, on the Gallup U.S. Daily survey, with a random sample of 110,835 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±1 percentage point at the 95% confidence level.

Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 50% cellphone respondents and 50% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.

Learn more about how Gallup Daily tracking works.

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