U.S. health care costs — and not merely prescription-drug prices — have risen to the top of the national agenda. More than two thirds (69%) of the U.S. public has said that reducing these costs should be a top priority for President Donald Trump and Congress in 2019, ranking it behind only strengthening the economy (70%) on a list of 18 possible priorities (Pew, 2019). Given a list of 13 possible health-specific priorities, about 9 in 10 Americans said both prescription-drug prices (92%) and lowering the overall cost of health care (88%) were extremely important (Politico–HSPH, December 2018). In addition, when asked how much of a problem each of 18 domestic issues was, respondents ranked affordability of health care first, with 70% saying it was “a very big problem” (Pew, September–October 2018). We reviewed 14 national public opinion polls from 2018 and 2019 to elucidate the public’s perspective on health care costs and possible solutions.
Caitlin McMurtry is a fourth-year PhD candidate in Health Policy at Harvard University, focusing on Political Analysis. Her research examines the ways in which policies and politics affect health behaviors, outcomes, and disparities in the U.S. In particular, her dissertation analyzes the impact of state-level changes in firearm policy, the effect of political advertising on election outcomes, and public perceptions of drug policy.
This fall, Caitlin serves as a teaching fellow to Professors Dan Levy and Theodore Svoronos at the Harvard Kennedy School in their class, API 201: Quantiative Analysis and Empirical Methods. She also serves as the teaching assistant to former Governor Peter Shumlin (D-VT) in his class at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, HPM 225: Health Policy and Leadership. Throughout the year, Caitlin works as a Research Fellow at the Harvard Opinion Research Program, where she designs and analyzes public opinion polls on health and social policies for Politico, NPR, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Her work is supported by an Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality training grant (2018-2020).
BA, Carleton College (Sociology & Anthropology), 2009
SM, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (Health Policy & Management), 2015
PhD, Harvard University (Health Policy, Political Analysis), expected 2021