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New Poll: Majority of Voters Support Aggressive Congressional Action to Lower Hospital Prices

Survey findings reflect voter frustration with a dysfunctional market.

View down a hospital corridor with a hospital bed parked in the hallway.
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Health care has become increasingly unaffordable for everyday Americans, including individuals and families with private insurance. As health care costs continue to climb, a new survey finds a majority of voters from across the political spectrum think it is very important for Congress to lower hospital prices, the main driver of rising costs for the privately insured. 

This new survey — from the bipartisan polling team of Guy Molyneux and Geoff Garin from Hart Research Associates and Bob Ward from Fabrizio Ward, and supported by Arnold Ventures — finds that voters overwhelmingly view hospital prices as not only high, but unreasonable given the care that patients receive. The survey findings also demonstrate that voters from across the political spectrum support a range of policies to lower high hospital prices for the privately insured, including policies to address hospital consolidation, ban anticompetitive practices, expand site-neutral payments, and directly limit the prices hospitals can charge. 

Voters’ main worry: that Congress won’t do enough to limit health care prices, not that they will go too far. Building on a 2021 survey on high hospital prices from the same bipartisan polling team, these survey results underscore the strong voter demand for congressional action on unaffordable hospital prices. 

These survey findings reflect voter frustration with a dysfunctional market. 

The prices that hospitals charge the privately insured far exceed the prices that Medicare pays, with some hospitals charging as much as three to five times Medicare rates. Prices vary wildly for the same service even within the same city, and more and more markets across the country are dominated by large hospital monopolies that engage in anticompetitive behavior. 

As a result, health care prices continue to climb, creating a larger-than-ever financial burden for consumers, employers, and taxpayers. About 40% of U.S. adults say they have delayed or gone without medical care due to cost. More than 100 million Americans have medical debt, and some face predatory billing practices such as wage garnishment. Unaffordable health care prices also increase employer spending on premiums and slow wage growth for consumers. Increased employer spending on health care may harm business’ ability to grow, shape their hiring and compensation choices, and could even force businesses to shutter. 

Public, policymaker, and media attention on excessive hospital prices is driving state and federal action.

Policymakers are stepping up to address out-of-control health care prices. In 2022, Massachusetts, California, Indiana, and other states pursued policies to address high and rising health care prices and growing hospital monopolies. This year, states spanning the political spectrum are exploring policies to directly limit prices, ban facility fees, and address anticompetitive contracting practices — from Texas and Indiana to Colorado and California.

At the same time, bipartisan policymakers at the federal level are exploring ways to strengthen price transparency, expand site-neutral payments, and limit health care consolidation. The House Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce Committees are holding hearings on health care affordability and transparency and competition, respectively. Legislation to strengthen price transparency has been introduced recently. In the previous Congress, legislation to expand site-neutral payments and take on anticompetitive contracting practices was also introduced.

Polling results

Voters demand Congress take action on hospital prices. 

  • Nine in 10 voters (89%) say it is important for this Congress to take action to reduce hospital prices, including 95% of Biden voters and 85% of Trump voters; 60% say it is very important.
  • By a wide majority, more voters (74%) are concerned that Congress won’t do enough to limit prices than are worried Congress will get too involved in setting prices (26%).

There is broad consensus that hospital prices are out of control. 

  • 80% of voters say hospital prices are unreasonable, including more than 3 in 4 Biden voters (78%) and more than 4 in 5 Trump voters (83%).
  • 75% of voters think the prices that hospitals and doctors charge privately insured patients for medical services are too high relative to Medicare.
  • When asked about limiting hospital prices to two times what Medicare pays for a service, half of voters (51%) said a rate of twice what Medicare pays is too high. Only 6% said it was too low.

Large majorities of voters support a range of policies to lower prices.

  • Voters from both sides of the aisle broadly support:
    • Requiring hospitals to publicly disclose their prices (87%)
    • Limiting outpatient fees to the same price charged by doctors in the community (85%)
    • Preventing hospitals from engaging in business tactics that reduce competition (75%)
    • Limiting mergers and acquisitions (74%)
    • Limiting the prices that hospitals can charge to two times what Medicare pays (72%)

More than 7 in 10 voters support aggressive action to lower prices, including limiting the prices that hospitals can charge to privately insured patients to 2X what Medicare pays.

  • There is broad bipartisan support for directly limiting prices, with 76% of Biden voters and 70% of Trump voters supporting it.
  • 59% of voters believe that limiting the prices hospitals can charge to no more than twice the price Medicare pays would lower health care costs for them. A solid majority of voters in both parties still support limiting the prices hospitals can charge even after hearing both sides’ arguments.