Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues…

Kaiser Health Tracking Poll - Late April 2017: The Future of the ACA and Health Care & the Budget

This month’s tracking survey examines potential policy aimed at one of the public’s top health care priorities for President Trump and Congress: lowering the cost of prescription drugs. Six in ten Americans say lowering the cost of prescription drugs is a “top priority” for President Trump and Congress – including majorities of Democrats, Republicans, and independents.

Figure 1: Lowering the Cost of Prescription Drugs Is One of the Top Health Care Priorities Across Parties

Public Favors Variety of Policy Options to Keep Prescription Drug Costs Down

When presented with a list of policy options intended to help keep the cost of prescription drugs down, the majority of the public is in favor of most of the policy actions, with the vast majority favoring allowing the federal government to negotiate with drug companies to get a lower price on medications for people on Medicare (92 percent), making it easier for generic drugs to come to market (87 percent), and requiring drug companies to release information to the public on how they set drug prices (86 percent).

Figure 2: Most of the Public Favors Actions to Keep Drug Costs Down

A majority of Republicans, Democrats, and independents favor most of these policy actions with one exception – encouraging people to buy lower-cost drugs by requiring them to pay a higher share if they choose a similar, higher-cost drug, which is favored by less than half of Democrats.

Table 1: Views of Policy Actions to Keep Drug Costs Down by Party Identification
Percent who say they favor each of the following: Party ID
Democrats Independents Republicans
Allowing the federal government to negotiate with drug companies to get a lower price on medications for people on Medicare 96% 92% 92%
Making it easier for generic drugs to come to market in order to increase competition and reduce costs. 84 91 91
Requiring drug companies to release information to the public on how they set their drug prices. 84 88 84
Limiting the amount drug companies can charge for high-cost drugs for illnesses like hepatitis or cancer 78 79 79
Creating an independent group that oversees the pricing of prescription drugs 74 74 71
Allowing Americans to buy prescription drugs imported from Canada 66 77 75
Allowing Americans to buy prescription drugs from online pharmacies based in Canada 73 68 59
Eliminating prescription drug advertisements 59 59 53
Encouraging people to buy lower-cost drugs by requiring them to pay a higher share if they choose a similar, higher cost drug 40 60 57
NOTE: Items were asked of separate half samples.

Importing Prescription Drugs from Canada

One policy proposal that has received recent attention is allowing Americans to buy prescription drugs imported from Canada or from online pharmacies based in Canada. The majority of the public think that both of these policy changes will make medicines more affordable without sacrificing safety or quality (76 percent say this about allowing Americans to buy prescription drugs imported from Canada, 68 percent say this about allowing Americans to buy prescription drugs from online pharmacies based in Canada). Fewer say either of these policy changes will expose Americans to unsafe medicines from other countries (35 percent and 39 percent, respectively) or lead U.S. drug companies to do less research and development (29 percent and 33 percent, respectively).

Figure 3: A Large Majority Agree Importing Canadian Prescription Drugs Would Make Medicines More Affordable

ACA Marketplaces

The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation Headquarters: 2400 Sand Hill Road, Menlo Park, CA 94025 | Phone 650-854-9400
Washington Offices and Barbara Jordan Conference Center: 1330 G Street, NW, Washington, DC 20005 | Phone 202-347-5270

www.kff.org | Email Alerts: kff.org/email | facebook.com/KaiserFamilyFoundation | twitter.com/KaiserFamFound

Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.