Survey Says U.S. Healthcare System Stinks

| Jan 28, 2008

A survey of people's experience with healthcare in seven countries - Australia, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States - shows that we Americans don't stack up very well.

We spend more than twice as much on healthcare as the other countries, yet one-third of us say our healthcare needs fixing - far more than in any other country.

And we're the only country where a significant percentage of our people is without health insurance: about one-third of the U.S. population is either uninsured or underinsured.

The survey, sponsored by the Commonwealth Fund, polled 12,000 people in the seven countries by telephone. Among its findings are that we have the highest out-of-pocket costs and the most difficulty paying our medical bills. We're more likely to go without needed care when sick because we can't pay for it, and one-fifth of us has trouble paying our medical bills - more than twice as many as in any other country.

Thirty-seven percent of us say that costs have kept us from taking prescriptions, seeing a doctor when sick, or receiving recommended care. In other countries the rates were far lower, especially in the Netherlands, Canada and the United Kingdom.

People in all countries reported that having an accessible "medical home" that coordinates their medical care helps them considerably with costs, preventive care, and outcomes. (A medical home consists of a regular doctor or place of care; caregivers who actually know important information about their patients; caregivers who are easy to get hold of by phone during office hours; and caregivers who coordinate care with one another.) In the United States, 53 percent of insured and 26 percent of uninsured adults under age 65 have a medical home.

Source: National Association of Healthcare Access Management

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