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Survey Says: Fix Health System

Most Americans see the need for fundamental changes in the nation's health care system, according to national survey findings released by the Commonwealth Fund Commission on a High Performance Health System.

As reported in Public Views on Shaping the Future of the U.S. Health Care System, three-quarters (76%) of all adults said the health care system needed either fundamental change or complete rebuilding.

Change is desired in nearly every aspect of health care. Forty-two percent of respondents said they had recently received poorly coordinated, inefficient, or unsafe care at some time during the past two years. This included unnecessary care or treatment recommended by a doctor; failure of a health care provider to transmit test results or other important information to other doctors or nurses; medical errors; and duplicate tests. "Rather than thinking more care is better care, patients are quite perceptive about wasteful care," said Commonwealth Fund Senior Vice President Cathy Schoen, lead author of the report.

Paying for care is also a major concern. About half of U.S. adults in middle- and low-income families (48%) reported they have experienced serious problems paying for health care and health insurance. Not surprisingly, survey respondents cited expanding affordable coverage and controlling costs as top priorities for federal action.

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"As economic stresses related to health care rise up the income ladder, we are undermining the economic security of the workforce," said Dallas L. Salisbury, president and CEO of the Employee Benefit Research Institute and a Commission member. "Rising costs also put financial stress on employers based in the United States."

The Commission on a High Performance Health System, formed last year, recently issued a framework statement (see "In Other News") outlining its vision of a health system that provides expanded access, higher quality, and greater efficiency for all Americans.

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