Americans cite opioids and fentanyl, obesity, and access to guns and firearms as the top three public health challenges this summer of 2023, according to the new Axios/Ipsos American Health Index.
As for government priorities dealing with public health, though, U.S. health citizens say the top priority should be lowering the costs of health care and prescription drugs.
Once again, we see evidence that U.S. consumers bundle their financial wellbeing — in this instance, costs of medical services and medicines — into peoples’ overall sense of health for themselves as individuals and for the public’s health at-large.
The first bar chart arrays peoples’ perceived public health threats for 3 time periods in 2023: in February, May, and August. Opioids/fentanyl risks ranked top across the three periods, with guns as a threat tying for top spot in the May 2023 poll. Obesity continues to be a threat in second place across the three rounds, very much on peoples’ minds especially as the category of GLP-1 drugs has received major mass media attention in 2023 for weight reduction and diabetes management.
Notwithstanding peoples’ citing opioids, obesity and guns as public health risks, it’s the cost of healthcare that is front-of-mind for health citizens in America as a #1 government priority.
Note here that 50% of Americans said lowering costs for care and drugs was the top priority for government policy compared with 14% pointing to reducing deaths due to guns as well as research into cures and treatments for major diseases (e.g., cancer, Parkinson’s, etc.).
Only 7% of people said that preventing deaths from overdoses and accidents should be a public health priority for government, begging the question: which stakeholder beyond government should prioritize drug overdoses and accidents?
The study was fielded between August 11 and 14, 2023, among 1,162 U.S. adults at least 18 years of age.