Americans overwhelmingly think their health and hospital care costs too much, but they don't seem to know whether the federal government should control hospital costs, a national opinion survey indicated yesterday.

Hospital Affiliates International, a hospital management firm, commissioned the Louis Harris survey to poll a sample of 1,500 men and women, as well as special groups of health professionals and hospital officials.

Most of the public were satisfied with any recent hospital care. Most thought it cost too much. Most said they aren't told enough about either fees or their treatment.

Fifty percent answered "yes" and 34 percent "no" to the question, "To help reduce inflation in the health care system, would you be in favor of the federal government introducing price controls to contain costs at your hospital?"

But only 30 percent answered yes, and 50 percent no, to the question, "Do you believe that the federal government should control the amount spent on hospital care by setting a limit on each hospital's annual revenue."

A study of "study highlights" sent newspapers quoted the second question and answers as showing the public opposed federal "regulation," but did not mention the first question, though it was included in the survey materials also provided.