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Report finds poor health care practices increasing, system 'broken'

Posted Jun 26th, 2008 by Patient Assistance Team
About one in five people (20 percent) in the U.S. reported not getting or delaying needed medical care over the past 12 months, according to a report by the Center for Studying Health System Change. This figure is up from 14 percent (one in seven) from 2003.

In 2007 over 59 million people reported some sort of health care problems – 36 million delayed care while 23 million went without it. The HSC’s survey culled results from 18,000 people, making it nationally representative. The results from 2007 showed the sharpest increase during the ten years (five times) the survey has been administered.

“This is the most up-to-date snapshot of the access problems Americans are facing when seeking medical care, and it's not a pretty picture,” said Peter J. Cunningham, Ph.D., coauthor of the study with HSC Health Researcher Laurie E. Felland, M.S. HSC is a nonpartisan health policy research organization.

Those without health insurance were nearly three times as likely to go without care (17.5 percent compared to 6.3 percent) than those with insurance. Despite this, those who are insured reported much more (a 62 percent increase versus a 33 percent increase) “unmet” medical needs than those without insurance.

“The findings send a clear message that we are heading down the wrong path. The American health care system is broken, and with each passing year more Americans are falling behind when it comes to getting the medical care they need,” David C. Colby, Ph.D., vice president for research and evaluation at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which funds the HSC, said. “This is a national problem that demands national attention.”

Many in the health care field had strong responses to the survey’s results.

Said Gail Shearer, director of health policy analysis, Consumers Union, “This study is yet another wake-up call to policymakers that our health care system is failing to meet the needs of even insured consumers in America.

“Health care reform is not just about decreasing the numbers of uninsured people. It is about transforming the system into one that consistently provides appropriate quality care without unfair financial burdens.”

Karen Ignagni, president and CEO, America's Health Insurance Plans said, “Health care reform needs to be a top priority to ensure that nobody falls through the cracks.”