Americans are closely divided over value of medical treatments, but most agree costs are a big problem
Pew Research Center
July 9, 2018
Americans have mixed assessments about the overall value of medical treatments today, even while a strong majority says science has generally improved the quality of U.S. health care, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey. At the same time, a substantial majority considers quality health care unaffordable.
Overall, 48% of U.S. adults say medical treatments are “worth the costs because they allow people to live longer and better quality lives,” while a similar share (51%) says such treatments “often create as many problems as they solve.”
The survey also finds that 90% of Americans believe science has had a mostly positive effect on the quality of health care. This is in keeping with a 2016 Pew Research Center report, which found that, among the 67% of Americans who said science has had a mostly positive effect on society, the largest share (59%), in an open-ended question, cited science’s effect on medicine and health as the main reason.
While Americans are closely divided in their views of the overall value of medical treatments, a majority of Americans (83%), regardless of their income, say a big problem is that the high cost of medical treatments makes quality care unaffordable. Just 14% say cost is a small problem and 3% say it is not a problem.
Roughly seven-in-ten (68%) say it is a big problem that “people rely too much on prescription medicines that may not be necessary.” Some 59% say a big problem is that the side effects of prescription medicines create as many problems as they solve.