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Majority of Americans say healthcare system is overdue for change

CVS survey finds three out of five respondents say decisions made in healthcare put the bottom line ahead of patients.

Jeff Lagasse, Associate Editor

More than half of Americans said the U.S. healthcare system doesn't work well for them, while 73 percent say the system is in need of reform. On the other hand, 69 percent said it's too politicized, according to a national survey released by CVS Health.

Of those frustrated by the current state of healthcare, 65 percent say it is too expensive; in fact, the affordability of healthcare, health insurance and prescription drugs top the list of Americans' most urgent concerns.

[Also: Almost half of Americans favor single-payer healthcare system, poll finds]

The survey was released shortly before CVS Health announced it was buying the insurer Aetna in a deal valued at about $77 billion. That merger, announced Sunday, is expected to close during the second half of 2018, subject to a federal review. CVS' pharmacies will essentially function as community health hubs, including space for wellness, clinical and pharmacy services, vision, hearing, nutrition, beauty, and medical equipment.

The results of the national survey of 2,201 adults, conducted online by Morning Consult on behalf of CVS Health in October and released at the Forbes Health Care Summit, also found that 41 percent of Americans believe healthcare in the U.S. has generally gotten worse rather than improved over the past five years.

[Also: A majority of states are now buying into value-based care]

But when it comes to their personal experience, a plurality said their own healthcare has largely not changed, and a larger share of Americans said it has gotten better (28 percent) compared to those who said it has gotten worse (23 percent).

Despite generally negative views of healthcare in the U.S., a vast majority of insured respondents, 83 percent, said they are somewhat or very satisfied with their health plans. However, nearly a third report that they did not have a choice in the health plan that was offered to them.

At the same time, respondents of the survey were hopeful about healthcare's future, particularly for the next generation. That sentiment was especially strong among parents, of whom 52 percent said they're optimistic their children will have better healthcare than they did at their age. They point to innovation as the reason, with 65 percent who said advances in healthcare will make lives safer, and 66 percent who say advances will make lives longer.

Still, the survey revealed limits to Americans' optimism, as a skeptical public questions whether effective healthcare reform will eliminate regulatory barriers to innovation and put patients first. According to the survey, 45 percent felt there is too much regulation in the way of innovation in healthcare. And three out of five said decisions made in healthcare put the bottom line ahead of patients, whereas only one in five said that either decisions put patients first or they are at least considered equally with the bottom line.

Twitter: @JELagasse
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