U.S. Ranks Last Among Wealthy Nations in Health Care Access

Survey conducted prior to implementation of Affordable Care Act, however

THURSDAY, Oct. 23, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- The U.S. health care system ranks last compared to other industrialized nations when it comes to affordability and patient access, according to a new survey published in the Oct. 23 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

The 2013 survey of the American health care landscape was conducted by the Commonwealth Fund and written by Karen Davis, Ph.D., and Jeromie Ballreich, M.H.S., of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, just prior to the full implementation of the Obama administration's Affordable Care Act (ACA). The survey included Canada, Australia, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Of these, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland ranked highest in terms of access to care irrespective of personal wealth. The survey concluded that at least three in 10 Americans say that money is a barrier to getting medical attention. This compared with roughly one in 10 among residents of the other countries polled.

"This was before the major insurance expansions [due to the ACA] went into effect in the U.S.," David Squires, a senior researcher with the Commonwealth Fund in New York City, told HealthDay. "So the millions who have since gotten insurance through exchanges or Medicare are not [reflected] in this survey, which means I think one way to read these findings is as a benchmark. The survey lays down where we were. And now future surveys will be able to measure the impact of the ACA."

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