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

A new 11-country 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 costs, have trouble paying 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 highlight the need for Affordable Care Act reforms that will ensure access to health care, protect people from medical debt, and simplify health insurance.

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, compared with as few as 5 percent to 6 percent in the Netherlands and the U.K., according to the survey analysis, published today as a Health Affairs Web First article.

"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. "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."

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 in the Fund's International Health Policy Center.

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