Is the United States Spending Enough on Global Health Care?

Partisan split found in those who believe America should devote more funds to global health care initiatives.

When the question is asked as to whether the United States should play a significant role in health care for developing countries, there is a partisan split, a recent study indicates.

The Kaiser Family Foundation has tracked public opinion on global health issues since 2009. In a study regarding global health spending, researchers found there has been a widening gap since 2009 between Republicans and Democrats on whether we are doing enough to improve health care in underdeveloped countries.

Researchers found that the majority of Republicans (68%) and Independents (59%) believe that the United States is doing enough, while little more than half (52%) of Democrats think we aren’t doing enough.

Critics believe in the “bang for the buck” of spending when it comes to global health funding, which is the relation between the number of lives saved and the amount of money spent.

Sixty-nine percent of Americans believe that this value is poor, while 21% say it has great value.

Furthermore, critics feel that foreign aid from the United States and other countries is not that effective and won’t lead to meaningful health care improvement for developing countries. About 4 in 10 people surveyed believe that spending more money will lead to health progression, while 55% believe it will not.

The researchers noted there are numerous obstacles that contribute to the lack of progress in the improvement of health care, such as the corruption and misuse of funds (79%), a lack of infrastructure and resources (73%), widespread poverty (72%), lack of political leadership (68%), and a lack of effective programs (57%). Meanwhile, 34% of people surveyed indicated the major reason for stunted progress is a lack of funds from the United States and surrounding wealthy countries.

There has also been an inaccuracy in the belief of how much of the federal budget is being spent on foreign aid. On average, Americans believe that foreign aid makes up 31% of the federal budget, with 47% who believe it makes up greater than 20% of the budget and only 3% who correctly said that the federal budget only spends 1% or less on foreign aid.

Despite the skepticism and criticism for global health care spending, there are many Americans who believe there are numerous benefits for spending funds to improve health in developing countries. About 63% believe that the spending will help protect their own heath from widespread disease, such as SARS, bird flu, swine flu, and Ebola.

Fifty-three percent said funding can help those in developing countries become more self-sufficient, while 52% believe it helps improve the global image of the United States.

There are also 33% of Americans who believe this could benefit our economy, while 31% feel it could help national security by decreasing terrorism threats. Thirty-one percent believe foreign aid has no impact in those areas.

Of those surveyed, it’s more likely for Democrats to believe that the money spent to improve health has an impact. Meanwhile 58% of Republicans and 62% of Independents said this helps protect America’s overall health.

Even though global health aid can benefit domestic interests, there are still 46% of Americans who believe the most important reason for getting involved is because it’s the right thing to do, which ranks higher than ensuring national security (14%), diplomatic relationships (14%), helping our economy (11%), or improving our image around the globe (9%).

These views do not vary by political party.

With no substantial differences between the parties, there has been a cause for concern among the American people since the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Most people surveyed said (83%) that in the next 5 years there will be another Ebola outbreak in the United States, while 87% believe the United States is at least somewhat likely to experience a serious outbreak of a different disease.

Approximately 66% of Americans said we are somewhat well-prepared for future outbreaks around the world, while 16% said the country is very well-prepared and 32% indicated the country is not well-prepared.