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Peering Into the Perpetual State of Crisis in Healthcare?

by Clive Riddle, January 18, 2019 

This week, Gallup released data from their annual healthcare poll, which found “Seventy percent of Americans describe the current U.S. healthcare system as being "in a state of crisis" or having "major problems." This is consistent with the 65% to 73% range for this figure in all but one poll since Gallup first asked the question in 1994.” The point out the only time the figure dipped was in 2001, just after the September 11th attacks, when terrorism was top of mind, and “just” 49% of the public felt U.S. healthcare was in crisis or having major problems. 

The first year Gallup took the poll – in 1994, 69% held we were crisis bound, and 30% said we were just experiencing minor problems. At the end of 2018, the number virtually hasn’t shifted: 70% crisis and 30% minor problems. 

But while U.S. healthcare may have been besot in a crisis-soaked state of affairs during the past decades, it appears that crisis, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder and the beholder’s lens is shaped by politics.

Democrats were in the 70-84% crisis range in the post 9/11 Bush years. Upon Obama’s election, the Democrat crisis levels dropped  (from 84% to 59% from 2007-2014) and the Republican levels rose (from 58% in 2007 to 80% in 2016); meeting at similar levels as the ACA passed and early implementation rolled out.  Then with Trump, Democrats soared from 63% to 84% while Republicans plummeted from 80% to 56%. 

The prediction for public perception of healthcare crisis entering the next decade and another presidential election year? Perpetual, and Political.

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