International study raises questions about U.S. Health Care Reform
In a recent study, the Commonwealth Fund looked at access to care, out-of-pocket costs, and plan administration in 11 countries. In comparison to other developed nations, the U.S. fell short in all three areas, particularly where costs were concerned.
According to the study, 35% of Americans incurred at least $1,000 in out-of-pocket expenses within the last year. In addition, 20% had trouble paying their medical bills, and 33% avoided care altogether because it was too expensive. In other countries, these figures were significantly lower, with the UK leading in financial protection and affordability.
The study also revealed that Americans had more complaints about plan administration and were confused about coverage levels. This was attributed to complicated plan designs that lack uniformity, which combined with the cost issue leads to some interesting questions. Can the Affordable Care Act really correct all of these problems? What else can we do to control out-of-pocket spending? And, more importantly, what can we learn from other countries? As the authors note, in order for reform efforts to be successful, it will be important to continue monitoring these trends and look for guidance beyond our borders. For the full study, please click here.
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