Skip to main content

Advanced Search

Advanced Search

Current Filters

Filter your query

Publication Types



Newsletter Article


Many Adults Believe Health Care Overhaul Needed Now, Study Finds

By Mary Agnes Carey, CQ HealthBeat Associate Editor

August 17, 2006 -- Three-quarters of adults believe the U.S. health care system must undergo fundamental change or be completely rebuilt, according to a Commonwealth Fund survey released on Thursday.

Findings from the report, prepared for the Commonwealth Fund Commission on a High Performance Health System, also conclude that 42 percent of the more than 1,000 adults interviewed reported experiencing poorly coordinated, inefficient, or unsafe care at some time over the last two years. One of four U.S. adults reported that their physician had recommended unnecessary care or treatment, and one of six reported their physician ordered tests that already had been done.

Poorly coordinated health care efforts are to blame, respondents said, and they support steps such as expanded use of information technology and physicians, nurses, and other health care practitioners working as a team to improve the quality of care. Ninety-two percent of those surveyed backed the idea of a "medical home," described as a centralized place or physician responsible for providing and coordinating all of their medical care.

"When there isn't coordinated care, there is a higher risk for unsafe care and duplicative or wasteful medical spending," Commonwealth Fund President Karen Davis said in a statement. "Unfortunately, the reality is that too many patients have short-term relationships with their physicians and rarely have easy access to their own medical records."

Not surprisingly, adults who had experienced serious problems with their care were more likely to say the system needs to be completely rebuilt compared with those reporting no serious problems. Forty-three percent of those who had experienced a medical error in the past two years said the system needs to be rebuilt, compared with 27 percent of those who did not experience a medical error.

When asked what the White House and Congress could do to fix problems with the current system, respondents said steps should include lowering the cost of health care—including prescription drugs—and ensuring that all Americans have "adequate and reliable" health insurance.

The survey, conducted in June by Harris Interactive, follows a report done by the Commonwealth Fund Commission on a High Performance Health System that outlined a framework for improving health care in the United States.

Other key findings of the survey released Thursday include:

  • Americans of all incomes are worried about health care costs. One-third of adults with family incomes between $50,000 and $75,000 a year and one-fifth with incomes of over $75,000 report serious medical bill problems.
  • Thirty-nine percent of those surveyed said they have experienced "serious problems" getting timely appointments to see doctors.
  • Ninety-four percent said it was important to have easy access to their medical records and 95 percent felt it was important to have information about the quality of care provided by doctors and hospitals.

Publication Details