From the Washington Post (the new paper of record?), comes news of a huge study confirming something I've been banging the drum about for nearly a year now:
Nearly a third of U.S. patients reported spending more than $1,000 in out-of-pocket expenses for their care, far outpacing all other nations. Canadians and Australians came next, with 14 percent of patients spending that much. The proportion reporting similarly high costs was far lower in the other countries.
Americans had the easiest access to specialists, but they experienced the most problems getting care after hours, and Americans and Canadians were the most likely to report problems seeing a doctor the same day they sought one.
Americans were also much more likely to report forgoing needed treatment because of cost, with about half saying they had decided not to fill a prescription, to see a doctor when they were sick or opted against getting recommended follow-up tests. About 38 percent of patients in New Zealand reported going without care; the numbers were 34 percent in Australia, 28 percent in Germany, 26 percent in Canada and 13 percent in Britain.
...Americans also reported the greatest number of medical errors. Thirty-four percent reported getting the wrong medication or dose, incorrect test results, a mistake in their treatment or care, or being notified late about abnormal test results. Only 30 percent of Canadian patients, 27 percent of Australian patients, 25 percent of New Zealanders, 23 percent of Germans and 22 percent of Britons reported errors.
"The findings show that we have a lot to learn from our colleagues" in other countries, said Carolyn Clancy of the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality during a briefing at which the results were released. She said the federal government has launched a number of initiatives to find ways to improve care, particularly for the increasing number of Americans with chronic illness.
Lucian L. Leape of the Harvard School of Public Health said "This provides confirming evidence for what more and more health policy thinkers have been saying, which is, 'The American health care system is quietly imploding, and it's about time we did something about it.' "
How about Universal Healthcare? Lower costs, better care, universal care - it makes sense.