U.S. citizens least happy with care

August 1, 2002

Pharmaceutical Representative

A study published in the journal Health Affairs (vol. 21, no. 3) found that citizens of the United States were more likely to be dissatisfied with their access to healthcare than citizens of Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom or New Zealand.

A study published in the journal Health Affairs (vol. 21, no. 3) found that citizens of the United States were more likely to be dissatisfied with their access to healthcare than citizens of Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom or New Zealand. Citizens with low incomes across all countries also ranked the quality of their healthcare lower.

The study was based on telephone surveys of nationally representative, noninstitutionalized adult populations in each of the five countries during April and May 2001.

General access problems

The study found that the majority of citizens across the five countries did not report access problems, but more in the low-income population reported problems on a number of measures than those with above-average incomes.

Roughly 20% to 28% of citizens with below-average incomes reported that their access to medical care had gotten worse in the past two years. In four of the five countries studied, persons with below-average incomes were significantly more likely than those with above-average incomes to report worse access to care.

Difficulties with access to specialty care were reported by 14% to 30% of low-income citizens across the five countries. Americans with below-average incomes were much more likely than their counterparts in the other four countries to report that it was extremely or very difficult to see a specialist.

Policy improvements necessary

The study also suggested places where improvements in policy would address citizens' needs. "In the United States, the policy issue that stands out is the uninsured," the authors of the study wrote. "Reflecting their high rate of uninsurance, U.S. adults with low incomes were the most dissatisfied of any group across the five nations and the most at risk of going without needed medical care on all access indicators." PR

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