112 million Americans struggle to pay for healthcare

2 min
March 31, 2022

By Adam Barnes

March 31, 2022

Around 112 million Americans have trouble paying for healthcare, while more than 90 percent of the country believes it is not worth the cost, according to a new report released Thursday.  

The data was collected by Gallup and West Health through the Healthcare Affordability Index and Healthcare Value Index, which gathered the opinions of more than 6,600 U.S. Adults. The Healthcare Affordability Index measured the public’s ability to pay for necessary healthcare, while the Healthcare Value Index evaluated Americans’ views of healthcare in relation to its cost.  

“These indices are tracking the healthcare cost crisis in America and its impact on everyday Americans,” Tim Lash, President of West Health, said in a news release.  

“Bottom line – Americans are increasingly getting priced out of the system and many of those who can still afford to pay don’t think they’re getting their money’s worth relative to the cost. We must begin to change this trajectory with smarter policies that put patients over profits.” 

A survey respondent was considered “cost desperate” if they were unable to pay for healthcare within the three months before the survey, skipped medical prescription due to cost in the same period, or said they could not afford medical care if it was needed that day. “Cost insecure” individuals were classified by experiencing two of the previous three indicators.  

The survey found that 36 percent of respondents were “cost desperate” and another 8 percent were “cost insecure.”  

Survey respondents said that healthcare costs also affected their abilities to cover other necessary costs. More than 35 percent said they had to scale back utility expenses and another 50 percent said they had to slash food costs.  

Only 5 percent of adults surveyed indicated a “High Perceived Value” in healthcare, meaning they believe they and other Americans are paying an appropriate amount for healthcare and that the treatment received is worth the price.  

“These estimates are important resources for policymakers, researchers, and the public to evaluate and understand the burden of high healthcare costs,” said Dan Witters, a senior researcher for Gallup. “The indices paint a comprehensive picture of why Americans are unable to keep pace with the rising costs and don’t see value in the care they are receiving.” 

The results were derived from two survey periods, Sept. 27-30, and Oct. 18-21, and they measured the responses of 6,663 American adults aged 18 and older.  


Timothy Lash
President, Gary and Mary West Foundation
President, West Health Institute
President & Chair, West Health Policy Center