US spends most, but health quality lags
Last Updated: Thursday, November 05, 2009, 00:00

Chicago: Americans are more likely than people in 10 other countries to have trouble getting medical treatment because of insurance restrictions or cost, an international survey of primary care doctors released on Wednesday found.

While the United States spends more than twice as much as other developed countries on healthcare, it lags well behind in key measures of quality, the annual survey found.

"Our weak primary care system puts patients at risk and results in poor health outcomes and higher costs," said Karen Davis, president of the Commonwealth Fund, a private health policy group that sponsored the survey.

"The survey provides yet another reminder of the urgent need for reform that makes acceptable, high-quality care a national priority," Davis told a news briefing.

Other countries have solved problems the United States is still struggling to conquer, she said.

The survey of more than 10,000 primary care doctors in 11 developed countries -- Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom -- found problems in all of them.

In the United States, cost and access to care stood out as a major challenge for primary care doctors.

"The majority of U.S. doctors -- some 58 percent -- say their patients often have difficulty paying for medications and other medical care, by far the highest rate in the survey," Cathy Schoen of the Commonwealth Fund, whose study appears in the journal Health Affairs, told the briefing.

Bureau Report

First Published: Thursday, November 05, 2009, 00:00

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