Americans’ Access to Medical Care Deteriorates Between 2003 and 2007

Source: Peter J. Cunningham, Laurie E. Felland, Center for Studying Health System Change, Tracking Report no. 19, June 2008

From the press release:
More than 20 percent of the U.S. population in 2007–one in five people–reported not getting or delaying needed medical care in the previous 12 months, up significantly from 14 percent–one in seven people–in 2003, according to a national study released today by the Center for Studying Health System Change (HSC).

In 2007, more than 23 million people reported going without needed care and approximately 36 million people delayed care, for a total of about 59 million people reporting access problems, according to findings from HSC’s 2007 Health Tracking Household Survey, a nationally representative survey containing information on 18,000 people; the survey had a 43 percent response rate. HSC has conducted the survey five times since 1997 as part of the Community Tracking Study, and the 2007 survey shows the sharpest increase in access problems in a decade, particularly among insured Americans.

The proportion of Americans reporting an unmet medical need between 2003 and 2007 increased by 2.8 percentage points to 8 percent–the equivalent of about 9.5 million more people going without medical care, the study found. During the same period, the proportion of Americans delaying needed care increased by 3.9 percentage points to 12.3 percent, or about 13.5 million more people postponing care. The 59 million people reporting access problems increasingly cited cost as an obstacle to needed care, along with rising rates of health plan and health system barriers, the study found.

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