Health insurance complicates health care delivery, survey shows

A survey of doctors from 11 nations showed that a markedly higher proportion of U.S. patients struggle to pay their medical bills or find limitations in their care.

Fifty-eight percent of American doctors say their patients often have difficulty paying for medical care - "by far the highest rate in the survey," noted Cathy Schoen of the Commonwealth Fund, the health policy group that conducted the study.

And, just as troubling, half of the 1,400 American doctors surveyed said that insurance companies are a major impediment to their efficiency. Many insurance companies, the survey shows, restrict the treatment or medication of policyholders.

A recent TransUnion survey revealed that two-thirds of recent hospital patients would like hospital bills to be more transparent, with the results skewed toward younger patients. Over 78 percent of those between 18 and 29 wished their bills were more transparent. Sixty-eight percent of 30- to 49-year-olds agreed; the number continued to fall as patients got older.

Some have suggested that medical bills be itemized to help patients understand the care they receive. Such a move would help keep spiraling health insurance costs under control.

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Posted: November 6, 2009

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