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US adults most likely to forgo care due to cost, have trouble paying medical bills
Date:11/18/2010

dical bills and timely access to health care.

"We spend far more on health care than any of these countries, but 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 of the article. "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. This is avoidableother countries have designed their insurance systems to value access and limit out-of-pocket costs."

U.S. Health System Stands Out for Insurance Problems, Income Disparities

The U.S. also stood out for its complex insurance system, the study found. Thirty-one percent of U.S. adults either spent a lot of time dealing with insurance paperwork, had their insurer deny a claim, or had their insurer pay less than they anticipated. In contrast, only 13 percent of adults in Switzerland, 20 percent of adults in the Netherlands, and 23 percent of adults in Germanyall countries with competitive health insurance marketsreported these problems. U.S. adults under 65 were the most likely to experience problems dealing with their health insurance providersthe 65 and older Medicare population was much less likely to report these issues.

According to the study, the U.S. stood alone among the countries for its persistent and wide disparities among income groupseven for those with insurance. Although the uninsured were at highest risk for skipping needed care, working-age U.S. adults with below-average incomes who were insured all year were significantly more likely than those with above-average incomes to go without needed care because of costs and have serious problems paying medical billsnearly half (46%) went without needed care and one third had one bill problem, double the rates reported by above-average income insured adults.

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Contact: Mary Mahon
mm@cmwf.org
212-606-3853
Commonwealth Fund
Source:Eurekalert

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