Insurance industry is the most at fault for high healthcare costs: poll

A new public poll reveals that American ire over high healthcare costs is directed more strongly against insurers than even drug manufacturers

Insurance News


Insurance companies have a crisis of faith on their hands.

According to a new poll from Morning Consult, American ire over rising healthcare costs is increasingly focused on their carriers, even more so than on the federal government or pharmaceutical companies.

A full 31% of poll respondents hold health insurance companies responsible for the last 10 years of risig healthcare costs, compared to 25% who blame the government and 13% who think pharmaceutical companies are causing the rise.

The scrutiny is particularly strong as the Department of Justice is continuing to review the proposed mergers of four of the nation’s largest insurers. The House and Senate Judiciary Committees have also held hearings on the proposals, and Hillary Clinton has included rhetoric in her campaign that target insurers in her healthcare plan.

That public anger, which eclipses public anger against pharmaceutical companies, makes sense, says Larry Levitt, senior vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation.

“Public opinion of both industries is relatively low right now,” Levitt told Morning Consult. “But, people generally have a conflicted view of drug companies. People are worried about high drug prices, but they also recognize that pharmaceutical companies make products that keep people healthy and in some cases save their lives.

“So, people are possibly more likely to blame insurers for rising health costs.”

Additionally, insurance is increasingly falling short in shielding policyholders from financial difficulty. According to another recent survey from Kaiser and The New York Times, one in five working-age Americans with health insurance reported having problems paying medical bills in the past year that cause serious financial challenges and changes in employment and lifestyle.

Specifically, insured Americans who face problem medical bills reported delaying vacations or major household purchases (77%), spending less on food and clothing (75%), using up most or all of their savings (63%), taking an extra job or working more hours (42%), increasing their credit card debt (38%), borrowing money from family or friends (37%) and even changing their living situation (14%).

While those statistics make the frustration against insurance companies understandable, however, the shifting of blame is not entirely fair. The causes of rising healthcare costs are diffuse and may actually be led by hospitals and doctors, said Levitt.

“Drug costs are the fastest rising part of the health system right now, but over the last decade hospitals and physicians have contributed much more to the rising health costs than drug companies,” Levitt said.

The results of the poll come on the heels of another survey from Kaiser and The New York Times that suggests even those with insurance coverage struggle to afford medical bills.

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