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Analysis

Survey Finds Wide Racial Divide in Healthcare Concerns

By John Commins  
   July 29, 2020

By a nearly 2 to 1 margin, non-white adults said they are concerned about their care costs for COVID-19.

Non-whites are far more likely to worry about how to pay for COVID-19-related healthcare than whites, according to a survey from nonprofit West Health and Gallup.

By a nearly 2 to 1 margin, non-white adults (58%) versus white adults (32%) said they are either "extremely concerned" or "concerned" about the potential cost of care. That concern is three times higher among lower income (60%) versus wealthier households (20%).

The Gallup-West Health U.S. Healthcare Study, an ongoing survey, is based on a nationally representative sample of 1,017 adults interviewed between June 8 and June 30, 2020.

"We're seeing a significant and increasing racial and socioeconomic divide when it comes to Americans' views on the cost of healthcare and its impact on their daily lives," said Tim Lash, chief strategy officer and executive vice president for San Diego–based West Health, a group of nonprofit and nonpartisan organizations.

Those divisions appear to be widening.

"When we started polling in early 2019, close to 1 in 5 Americans were unable to pay for prescribed medication in the last 12 months," Lash said. "Today it’s 1 in 4, and disparities between race and income are growing and will continue to grow without more action from providers and policymakers."

The survey also found that nearly 1 in 4 adults (24%) said they couldn't pay for at least one prescription drug in the past year, an increase from 19% in early 2019.

Among non-white adults, medication insecurity jumped 10 percentage points, from 21% to 31%, compared with a statistically insignificant three-point increase among white adults (17% to 20%).

"The statistically significant rise in Americans experiencing medication insecurity is by itself a noticeable shift," said Gallup Senior Researcher Dan Witters.

"The 10-percentage-point increase among non-white Americans between early 2019 and today serves as strong evidence that the situation is worsening more acutely for those who are already most at risk," Witters said.

The survey also found that:

  • About 1 in 10 (12%) workers are staying in a job they want to leave because they are afraid of losing healthcare benefits, and non-white workers are about twice as likely to feel that way versus white workers (17% vs. 9%, respectively).
     
  • Nearly 9 in 10 adults (89%), regardless of race, think the federal government should be able to negotiate the cost of a COVID-19 vaccine. Similarly, 86% of adults say there should be limits on the price of drugs that government-funded research helped develop.
     
  • Nearly 8 in 10 adults (78%) adults say political campaigns should not be allowed to accept donations from drug companies during the coronavirus pandemic.  

Editor's note: This story was updated on July 31, 2020. 

“We're seeing a significant and increasing racial and socioeconomic divide when it comes to Americans' views on the cost of healthcare and its impact on their daily lives.”

John Commins is a content specialist and online news editor for HealthLeaders, a Simplify Compliance brand.


KEY TAKEAWAYS

Nearly 1 in 4 adults (24%) said they couldn't pay for at least one prescription drug in the past year.

About 1 in 10 workers are staying in a job they want to leave because they are afraid of losing healthcare benefits.

Nearly 9 in 10 adults think the federal government should be able to negotiate the cost of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Similarly, 86% of adults say there should be limits on the price of drugs that government-funded research helped develop.

Nearly 8 in 10 adults say political campaigns should not be allowed to accept donations from drug companies during the coronavirus pandemic. 


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