When assessing healthcare in the United States it is useful to compare and contrast the various aspects of healthcare on a global level. In doing so, researchers and policy makers can work together to learn how to improve the care provided in the U.S.
The Commonwealth Fund, a health policy foundation based in Washington D.C. surveyed eleven countries to better understand global healthcare challenges. The survey revealed the ways in which the United States excels in healthcare and those areas which need improvement. Over 2,500 people just in the United States were part of the study.
One way in which the United States scored positively in the survey was in regards to accessibility of specialists. It was found that patients in the United States do seem to have greater access to specialists than in other countries. Eighty percent of Americans who attempted to see specialists were seen within a month’s time while nine of the other countries trailed significantly behind that. Only Germany and Switzerland had greater accessibility.
However, the United States fell well behind other countries in same-day accessibility to care from a doctor or nurse. Only fifty seven percent of American adults reported the ability to get in to see their doctor the same day. Nineteen percent reported needing to wait six days or more.
The primary area in which the United States’ current healthcare practices lagged behind many other countries is in relation to cost. It was found that a much greater number of Americans did not fill prescriptions due to the cost. The same is true of Americans skipping doctor’s visits, which was also cost related. Skipped doctor’s visits included both primary care visits as well as visits to specialists.
Many Americans stated that they had serious issues with medical bills. Many had to engage in disputes with their health insurance companies over their bills and twenty percent stated that in the previous year they’d had an extremely difficult time paying their medical bills.
Clearly, these issues of costs can greatly contribute to greater healthcare costs down the road for individuals and for insurers. Patients’ inability to pay for necessary medications and doctor visits reduces the ability to provide quality preventative care to people.
It is stated that the Affordable Care Act will eventually help to bridge the gap in the disparity of American’s ability to afford quality healthcare. This should elevate the United States’ status as a country that rates at the top for all aspects of healthcare.