Americans Are More Likely to Go Without Health Care A survey of 11 industrialized nations reveals that adults in the U.S. are by far the most likely to go without health care or skip filling a prescription because of costs. Among the reasons: a health care system that lags those of other modern countries, with high out-of-pocket medical expenses and lack of access to medical care due to costs.

U.S. adults were "significantly more likely than adults in other countries to have gone without care because of cost, to have spent $1,000 or more out of pocket on medical care, and to have had serious problems paying medical bills during the previous year," the authors write in the study, published in Health Affairs.

The survey, conducted by The Commonwealth Fund, a nonprofit group that advocates health care reform, relied on interviews of more than 19,000 adults in 11 countries with wide variations in their health insurance systems, from wholly public systems to hybrid systems of public and private insurance, with varying levels of cost-sharing. The countries were Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the U.K, and the U.S.

Among the study's main findings:
  • One-third (33%) of U.S. adults went without recommended care, did not see a doctor when sick, or failed to fill prescriptions because of costs. In Germany, 25% of adults went without care, while in the U.K., only 5% did.
  • Twenty percent of U.S. adults had major problems paying medical bills, compared with 9% or less in all other countries surveyed.
  • When it came to insurance complexity, 31% of U.S. adults reported spending a lot of time dealing with insurance paperwork, disputes, having a claim denied by their insurer, or receiving a smaller reimbursement than expected. By contrast, only 13% in Switzerland reported such concerns, 20% in the Netherlands, and 23% in France and Germany.
Americans were also much less confident than people in all other countries except Sweden and Norway that they would receive the most effective treatment when needed. U.K., Swiss and Dutch adults were the most confident.

Americans also exhibited the widest disparities when reporting health care experiences by income. For example, coverage was especially uncertain and unstable for adults with below-average incomes: 50% reported being uninsured or being uninsured earlier in the year. Among adults with average incomes, 24% were uninsured or had been uninsured earlier in the year.

According to the most recent statistics, about 60% of Americans are insured through their employers, 9% purchase insurance privately, and almost 28% are insured by the government, mostly in the form of Medicare or Medicaid. This leaves over 45 million that remain uninsured.

The authors then conclude the study "underscores the importance of the Affordable Care Act's emphasis on insurance expansion, benefit standards, and limits on costs for those with lower incomes." But they add the importance of monitoring access and affordability as health care reform gets under way.

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frank1946

Nobody talks about COMPETITION or lack of it in Healthcare ! Why ? Monopolies control the whole system, Healthcare is actually pretty cheap, if you remove all the regulatory control and open small Clinics at low cost (takes a Cap on Liability) however to do this. Trial Lawyers and big Hospitals and big Etc. seem to dodge this issue. If you want expensive Transplants or whatever then get out your own checkbook !

November 19 2010 at 1:32 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
jerald3739

Young man wants to be a Doctor. Aplies to medical school. Quotas only allow so many individuals to be accepted--and they must have apropriate sponsors. The quotas are set to keep the numver of doctors in short supply which will allow them to charge high fees. Waiting for those accepted are the elitists who see themselves as the creators of all medical knowledge. All of these creators and dispensers of knowlege insist upon exhobitant salaries as they meditate on ways to justify higher and higher tuition costs and extended time for students to reach graduation. The young man now is heavily in debt and so his fees cannot be reasonable. Looking at Medicine as the golden calf to provide big incomes the lawyers work to encourage liability cases, the drug companies work to produce pills on a daily basis that are held up as the holy grail of cures--with terrible side effects. All of these people feed off medicine and the majority of those in need are expected to pay the costs--or get marginal treatment. Robbed of all their money they have none to use to support their own children's education--without also going far into debt. The Nation loses their potential expertise in fields other than medicine. Sad but in all areas of academics the dispensers of knowledge see nothing wrong about demanding sky high wages knowing that they are sending the student into financial hell. There are things people can do without that have no consequence. Medical attention is not one of them. Education in this day and age, while it could be avoided is also a must have situation. How terrible it is to see a nation operate where one segment sees nothing wrong with destroying the very people it says it exists to serve.

November 18 2010 at 8:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
edbobbymarc

If govt run healthcare is so wonderful why has the President given wavers to hundreds of UNIONS? They all strongly supported the bill- and now realize they would not be able to supply healthcare due to additional costs - example: teachers Union! And AARP - another strong supporter. We are talking about 100s of thousands of people. Plus all members of Comgress. But no waver for us the "little people." We have a new class system all right (the President owes the Unions) - just different group who gets the perks, while the rest of us pay for it. No different than GM screwing stockholders and pension plans, but paying unions.

November 18 2010 at 8:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
edbobbymarc

Wow - yet another GOVT press release printed as news. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS FREE HEALTHCARE!!! When are people going to grasp the concept that in counties that have "govt run healthcare" it is not free. The citizens pay an average of 20% in extra taxes on EVERYTHING they pay for all year long - clothes, mortgage, EVERYTHING. Think that through and you realize they pay more than we do for less care. Don't let the pundits fool you - under those systems you wait and wait (my Canadiancousin waited 3 months for a CAR scan). And has anyone noticed the REAL stats? Since passing the bill an additional 2 million people are going without healthcare and costs have risen on all healthcare plans.

November 18 2010 at 7:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to edbobbymarc's comment
univumind

edbobbymarc, you may want to double check your claim abot other countris paying 20% more on everything. If you add up all the taxes we pay here you will see how we are being taxed but do not have a fraction of the security of knowing what your helthcare bill will be, what your property taxes will be, let alone what you will have for retirement!

November 18 2010 at 9:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ncpdiane

Isn't that 45 million uninsured Americans not 45,000?

November 18 2010 at 4:12 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
thomasva6

the US could have affordable health care if our government would stop giving foreign aid. but our government doesn't care because they get free health care.

November 18 2010 at 3:56 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply