Compared To Other Countries, U.S. Patients Have More Access to Specialists, Less To Primary Care

Kaiser Health News | November 18 – A new international survey finds that U.S. consumers report greater access to specialty health care but also have a tougher time seeing a doctor on the day they need help and in paying their medical bills than consumers in many other developed nations.

Americans visit doctors and specialists more readily than some other countries, such as Canada and France, according to the survey, which was conducted in 11 countries last spring for the Commonwealth Fund, a Washington-based health policy foundation. Eighty percent of Americans who needed to see a specialist were seen in less than four weeks, trailing the results in only Germany and Switzerland. In Canada, the number was 41 percent.

The survey, published online today in Health Affairs, also found that the United States fell behind seven other countries in both the percentage of adults who can see a doctor or nurse the same day they needed care – 57 percent of adults – and the percentage that had to wait six days or more to see a health care professional – 19 percent. Only Canada, Norway and Sweden did not score higher than the United States in those categories.

In addition, one in three American adults skipped a doctor visit, did not fill a prescription or get other care in the past year because it cost too much, according to the survey. More Americans skipped care because of cost than adults in any other of the countries surveyed.


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