Why We Still Need Health Care Reform


NEW YORK (MainStreet) — President Obama’s health care reform package will finally face its moment of truth, as the Supreme Court now plans to hear arguments about whether the legislation is constitutional sometime this term. The case represents the greatest threat to the health law yet, but the news came just a few days after an important international study provided clear evidence for why the country still needs health care reform of some sort.

The Commonwealth Fund, a private health policy foundation, surveyed more than 15,000 adults from 11 countries who had been hospitalized or received care in the previous two years and found that the U.S. ranks at or near the bottom in most key categories related to the cost, quality and access to medical care.

Nearly a third of those surveyed in the U.S. admitted that they opted not to fill a prescription, chose not to visit a doctor or skipped treatments due to cost concerns, which was more than 10 percentage points higher than any other country on the list. Likewise, 27% of those surveyed in the U.S. said they had “serious problems” paying their medical bills, nearly double the percentage of those who said so in the Netherlands, the second worst country in this category.

One might be able to argue that the highest cost of health care would be more acceptable if the quality of that care were higher as well, but Commonwealth’s data suggests otherwise: Only 59% of Americans were able to land a same-day or next-day appointment when they needed it and nearly a quarter said they experienced a medical or lab error when they did, both of which were tied for the third worst on the list.

In short, it seems that U.S. households aren’t getting a very good deal for their health care money. Whether the president’s health care overhaul would fix this in the long term is up for debate, but what’s perfectly clear is that undoing that bill without having something ambitious to replace it with is not a good option for the country.

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