3 of 4 Want Health Care Overhaul
Half of Middle and Lower Class Have Trouble Paying Bills
Aug. 17, 2006 - Half of middle- and lower-income Americans have serious
problems paying their medical bills, and more than three-fourths say the system
is in need of a major overhaul, according to a new survey.
The results show Americans are growing increasingly concerned about the
affordability of health care and want better coordination and improved access
to information and care.
"Rather than thinking more care is better care, patients are quite
perceptive about wasteful care," says researcher Cathy Schoen, senior vice
president of The Commonwealth Fund, in a news release.
The telephone survey was conducted in June by Harris Interactive for the
Commonwealth Fund's Commission on a High Performance Health System. The survey
had a national sample of 1,023 adults.
One in four adults said their physician had recommended unnecessary care or
treatment, and one in six reported their doctor repeated tests already
Overall, the survey showed 42% of Americans reported an instance of
receiving inefficient, poorly coordinated, or unsafe health care in the past
Problems included having a test ordered that had been done already, having
unnecessary care or treatment recommended, not having important medical
information shared with another doctor or nurse, or experiencing a medical,
surgical, medication, or lab error.
Nearly two of five adults reported serious problems paying for their own or
their family's health care, and a similar number reported problems paying for
insurance. About one in five said these affordability problems were "very
The results also show health care affordability concerns are moving up the
Half of middle-income ($35,000 to less than $50,000 per year) and
lower-income (less than $35,000 per year) adults report somewhat serious or
very serious problems paying for medical bills and health insurance.
A third of adults with higher annual incomes, between $50,000 and $75,000,
report serious problems paying for health care.
One fifth with incomes over $75,000 per year report serious medical bill
problems in the last two years.
Support for Better Health Care Coordination
More than three-quarters of those surveyed said the U.S. health care system
is in need of fundamental change or complete rebuilding.
There was also strong support for efforts to improve the coordination and
efficiency of health care and medical information, with more than nine in 10
believing it is important to have one place or doctor responsible for providing
and coordinating all their medical care.
The results also showed:
- More than nine in 10 Americans think computerized medical records would be
an effective way to improve health care quality.
- Four of five adults believe the quality of health care would improve if
doctors practiced in a group rather than alone.
- Nearly nine of 10 say wider use of reminders for preventive care would
improve the quality of health care.
- About two of five adults said they had experienced serious problems getting
timely appointments to see their doctors.