Just 68 percent of Cubans say they are satisfied with their country's health care system — about the same percentage of Americans who are unhappy with theirs.
The data for Cuban sentiment come from a new poll by from Bendixen & Amandi Poll for Univision Noticias - Fusion in collaboration with The Washington Post.
A survey from Gallup released in November showed 66 percent of Americans were satisfied with the U.S. health care system.
Cuba's health outcomes have historically outperformed usual positive correlations with gross domestic product (GDP) per capita; Cuba's was about $19,000 as of 2011. It was the first country to eliminate polio (1962) and measles (1996). As of 2006, it had the lowest AIDS rate in the Americas and the same rate of infant mortality as the U.S.
But a recent report from Al Jazeera's Lucia Newman highlights the problems the country's health care system has experienced, especially since the collapse of the Soviet Union stopped a much-needed flow of subsidies.
There is now a major black market for even the most basic medicines — something reflected in another result from the new poll, which showed pharmacies as the third-most in-demand item among Cubans.
Bribing physicians for shorter wait times or to guarantee an appointment is also a widespread practice, she writes. And thousands of doctors serve two-year tours of duty in Venezuela under an oil-trade arrangement, making them unavailable to their local patients.
"If you do not have a contact or money to pay under the table, the waiting time for all but emergency procedures can be ridiculously long," she says, adding, "The system is free, but it is neither fast nor efficient."
Many doctors also say their lack of access to the outside world have deprived them of accessing state-of-the-art treatments.
"Cuban specialists complain that they do not have the same opportunities to travel, to attend conferences and to read journals on the latest medical advances as their peers in other countries," she writes. "They feel, probably correctly, that they are falling behind."
The new poll is considered to be the biggest and most comprehensive independent public opinion study conducted in Cuba of the past 50 years.
The data was collected by local pollsters under the direction of the Miami-based firm Bendixen & Amandi without the consent of the Cuban government; 1,200 Cubans across the island were interviewed between March 17-27. Full results here.
Rob covers business, economics and the environment for Fusion. He previously worked at Business Insider. He grew up in Chicago.