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On Health Policies, U.S. Lags Other Nations: Survey
Date:11/18/2010

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Nov. 18 (HealthDay News) -- Patients in the United States are more likely to forgo medical care because of cost than residents of other developed countries, a new international survey finds.

Compared with 10 other industrialized countries, the United States also has the highest out-of-pocket costs and the most complex health insurance, the authors say.

"The 2010 survey findings point to glaring gaps in the U.S. health care system, where we fall far behind other countries on many measures of access, quality, efficiency and health outcomes," Karen Davis, president of the Commonwealth Fund, which created the report, said during a Wednesday morning press conference.

The report -- How Health Insurance Design Affects Access to Care and Costs, By Income, in Eleven Countries -- is published online Nov. 18 in Health Affairs.

"The U.S. spent far more than $7,500 per capita in 2008, more than twice what other countries spend that cover everyone, and is on a continued upward trend that is unsustainable," Davis said. "We are clearly not getting good value for the substantial resources we allot to health care."

The recently approved Affordable Care Act will help close these gaps, Davis said. "The new law will assure access to affordable health care coverage to 32 million Americans who are currently uninsured, and improve benefits and financial protection for those who have coverage," she said.

In the United States, 33 percent of adults went without recommended care or drugs because of the expense, compared with 5 percent in the Netherlands and 6 percent in the United Kingdom, according to the report.

In addition, 20 percent of U.S. adults had problems paying medical bills, compared with 9 percent in France, 2 percent in the United Kingdom, 3 percent in Germany and 4 percent in the Netherlands.

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