- A new 11-nation survey by The Commonwealth Fund finds Americans are less well and get medical care less often than citizens in other high-income nations.
- Roughly a third of U.S. adults ignored recommended care and failed to seek care when sick or fill prescriptions due to cost. That compared with 7% in the UK and Germany and 8% in the Netherlands and Sweden.
- The survey — published in Health Affairs—covered 27,000 adults from Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK and U.S.
Americans were also most likely to have multiple chronic illnesses (28%), and 26% reported experiencing emotional distress in the previous year. Emotional distress was a significant problem in Canada (27%) and Sweden (24%) as well.
The survey suggests that despite growing numbers of insured under the Affordable Care Act, problems in access to and affordability of healthcare persist.
“Previous surveys have shown that, especially compared to other industrialized nations, the U.S. has far too many people who can’t afford the care they need, even when they have health insurance," Robin Osborn, vice president and director of The Commonwealth Fund’s International Program in Health Policy and Practice Innovations and the study’s lead author, said in a statement. “This survey underscores that we can do better for our sickest and poorest patients, and that should be a high priority in efforts to improve our current system.”
Access to care for low-income Americans was also an issue, with 43% says they skipped care because of the cost. The next highest rate was Switzerland, at 31%, while only 8% of UK respondents saying they couldn’t afford care.
Other findings include:
- 32% of U.S. adults went without dental care in the past year due to costs;
- 35% of low-income adults in the U.S. waited six days or longer to see a doctor, versus 17% of higher-income adults;
- 32% of U.S. adults and similar rates in Canada, Sweden and France sought care at an emergency room in the past two years. Germany had the lowest ER use rate at 11%; and
- 32% of U.S. adults diagnosed with anxiety or depression did not talk with their doctor about what worried them during the past two years.
On the bright side, just 6% of Americans reported waiting longer than two months for an appointment and 59% said they’d discussed healthy behaviors with their physician in the past two years.