Spreading the blame: personal experience and attribution for health care expenses

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review


Costly and unexpected medical bills have led many Americans to deplete their savings or put off medical care. This study examines how the public attributes blame for the costly health care system and how these blame attributions vary according to an individual’s own personal experiences with medical expenses. The results from multiple nationally representative surveys show that blame for health care costs is diffuse. Insurance companies and health care providers, such as hospitals, share a significant portion of the blame for these costs, and this is especially true among those who have firsthand experience with health care costs. Personal experience also somewhat reduces the likelihood that partisans concentrate blame for health care costs on the opposing party. Even though the costs of unexpected medical bills are tangible and the stakes are high, more visible and proximate actors in the health care system may shield government from some of the blame for costs incurred in the current system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)365-376
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Elections, Public Opinion and Parties
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science


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