On The Quick
How U.S. Healthcare Ranks In 11-Country Survey
43 percent of us avoid healthcare due to cost
Last spring, the Commonwealth Fund conducted its latest 11-country international healthcare survey. The U.S. fared better than it did in the Fund’s 2013 survey, but the results show that cost remains a major barrier to care for many Americans.
First, the good news: The survey results, published in the November 16 online edition of Health Affairs, show that significantly fewer Americans in 2016 reported delaying or not seeking care for financial reasons than did in 2013. Back then, 51 percent of low-income U.S. respondents said they’d avoided seeking care for a medical problem in the past year due to cost. In 2016, that figure was down to 43 percent, an improvement the study’s authors attribute to expansions in health coverage under the Affordable Care Act.
Deterred by Cost
The bad news is that even with those improvements, substantially more Americans report cost-related barriers to care than do respondents from other countries. In Switzerland, second-worst among the 11 nations surveyed on this point, only 32 percent of low-income respondents said cost had been a deterrent to care or treatment in the past year. In Germany and Sweden, the figure was only 16 percent.
In an accompanying post on the Commonwealth Fund’s “To the Point” blog, the authors note that even insured Americans still struggle with out-of-pocket costs such as copayments, deductibles and patient cost-sharing, which are much higher in the U.S. than in the other 10 countries surveyed.
Emergency Room Use
Heavy use of emergency departments is a major contributor to higher healthcare costs, but surprisingly, the U.S. was not the worst in that area. Although 35 percent of American respondents said they’d used an ER in the past two years, that was better than Sweden or Canada and only a little worse than France. While ERs are a last resort for uninsured patients, poor availability of after-hours care may also be a significant driver.
Of those who reported needing care outside of normal office hours, 64 percent of French, German and Swedish respondents said they had a hard time getting it without going to the ER. The figure for U.S. respondents was a mid-pack 51 percent. You can read more of the survey results at www.commonwealthfund.org.
This article is from workingnurse.com.