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U.S. Health Care Still Ill, Survey Finds
Date:7/17/2008

Lack of access to insurance called a primary stumbling block

THURSDAY, July 17 (HealthDay News) -- Access to health care in the United States continues to elude more and more Americans, a new survey shows.

What's more, since the first "scorecard" was done in 2006, the nation's health-care system hasn't improved overall, even though the United States spends more on medical care than any other industrialized nation.

These are some of the findings in the Commonwealth Fund report called Why Not The Best? Results From The National Scorecard on U.S. Health System Performance, 2008.

"Despite the best efforts of millions of talented and dedicated health-care professionals, this latest scorecard demonstrates that we are losing ground," Karen Davis, president of the Commonwealth Fund, said during a Wednesday teleconference.

Davis said affordable health insurance must be extended to all. Also, the way Americans pay for health care needs to be changed to reward doctors and hospitals that offer high quality care, she said.

In the report, the authors compared average performance in the United States to performances by top-rated performers across the country and abroad.

"Overall, we find a failure to improve, with steep declines in access with growing numbers of uninsured and underinsured and ever less affordable care," Cathy Schoen, the Commonwealth Fund's senior vice president for research and evaluation, said during the teleconference.

"Overall, the U.S. score averages just 65 out of a possible 100, falling far short of benchmarks with wide gaps in all dimensions of the health system," Schoen said. The score was lower than that achieved in the 2006 scorecard, she added.

Scores for efficiency were particularly low, Schoen said, "held down by fragmented, poorly coordinated care; lack of access that leads to avoidable hospitalizations; variations in costs with no return in
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