Nov. 17, 2010 -- An international survey shows that the U.S. leads the industrialized world in out-of-pocket medical expenses and lack of access to medical care due to costs.
Americans were more likely than people living elsewhere to report having trouble paying medical bills and going without needed medical care because it was too expensive.
Satisfaction with health care was not much higher for insured Americans than for those without insurance, according to the survey by the health care research and advocacy group Commonwealth Fund.
Dissatisfaction with insurance was higher in the U.S. than anywhere else.
Almost a third of those surveyed in the U.S. said they spent a lot of time dealing with health insurance paperwork or that their insurance denied claims or paid less than anticipated for a doctor’s visit, hospital stay, or procedure.
The survey included close to 20,000 adults living in the U.S., U.K., Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland.
After the U.S., the countries with the next highest dissatisfaction with health insurance were Germany and France, with 23% of respondents reporting problems. The country with the least dissatisfaction was Sweden, with 4% of those surveyed finding fault with their health insurance.
Among the other major findings:
- One in five adults in the U.S. said they had major problems paying medical bills, compared to about one in 10 people in France, 4% of people in the Netherlands, 3% of people in Germany, and just 2% of people in the U.K.
- 35% of U.S. respondents reported paying $1,000 or more out of pocket over the past year in medical bills, compared to 25% of those surveyed in Switzerland, 21% in Australia, and 4%, 2% and 1%, respectively, in France, Sweden, and the U.K.
- Nearly half (46%) of working-age Americans with below-average incomes who were insured said they went without needed medical care due to cost and one-third said they had problems paying medical bills. Half as many Americans with above-average incomes said they had trouble paying their health bills.