Most Americans are focused on what they’re being charged for health care, not how much they or an aging population are consuming, according to a new POLITICO/Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health poll.

Respondents blamed drug companies, insurers, providers and even the federal government for surging costs while dismissing overuse as a central issue. That’s at odds with many politicians and health policy experts and raises questions about whether cost-cutting focused on overutilization could backfire politically.

“They aren’t hearing ‘overuse’ — they are hearing ‘use,’” said Harvard’s Robert Blendon, an expert on health care policy and public opinion, who designed the poll with POLITICO.
Blendon said people are afraid that high costs are going to prevent them from getting the care they need, or think they need.

About 54 percent of respondents believe that high health costs are a serious problem. Asked about the reasons, nearly 80 percent said the prices charged by drugmakers were a major factor, while 75 percent held insurance companies responsible and 74 percent held hospitals responsible.