11-Nation Survey: U.S. Adults Most Likely to Forgo Care Due to Cost, Have Trouble Paying Medical Bills

eAlert 8c7a7bf4-e028-4829-a379-fe5db99d6452

<p>A new survey from The Commonwealth Fund finds that adults in the United States are far more likely than those in 10 other industrialized nations to go without health care because of cost, have trouble paying their medical bills, encounter high medical bills even when insured, and have disputes with their insurers or discover insurance wouldn't pay as they expected. The findings, discussed in a new <a href="/publications/journal-article/2010/nov/how-health-insurance-design-affects-access-care-and-costs"><em>Health Affairs </em>"Web First" article</a>, highlight the need for the reforms in the Affordable Care Act that will ensure access to care, protect people from medical debt, and simplify health insurance, the authors say.</p>
<p>U.S. respondents to the survey reported the most negative insurance-related experiences. One-third of U.S. adults went without recommended care, did not see a doctor when sick, or failed to fill prescriptions because of costs, compared with as few as 5 percent to 6 percent in the Netherlands and the U.K. One-fifth of U.S. adults had major problems paying medical bills, compared with 9 percent in France, the next-highest country, and 2 percent in the U.K. Moreover, uninsured and insured U.S. adults reported equally high rates of out-of-pocket costs, with one-third paying $1,000 or more out-of-pocket in the past year for medical bills, significantly higher than in all the other countries. </p>
<p>"We spend far more on health care than any of these countries, but this study highlights pervasive gaps in U.S. health insurance that put families' health and budgets at risk," said Commonwealth Fund senior vice president Cathy Schoen, lead author of the article. "In fact, the U.S. is the only country in the study where having health insurance doesn’t guarantee you access to health care or financial protection when you're sick."</p>
<p>An audio file of Cathy Schoen reviewing the survey findings is available on The Commonwealth Fund Web site. And much more information on health system performance around the world can be found online in the Fund's <a href="~/link.aspx?_id=EA8FB3276DA942A88B16494559130CCA&_z=z">International Health Policy Center</a>. Here you can find new 2010 international survey data, obtain in-depth profiles of country health systems, and download podcasts and case studies of innovative programs and policies. </p>