Study: US docs most negative on healthcare system

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The study was published online by Health Affairs.

U.S. doctors were also far more likely to report that patients have difficulty paying for the care they need, at 59 percent, and that staff time spent navigating coverage restrictions is a major problem, at 52 percent.

On both questions, there was a single outlier among the other countries whose answer was closer to the United States'. But on the whole, the non-U.S. doctors were far less likely to report problems with cost or coverage restrictions.

The survey sought to understand the challenges facing physicians in developed countries where reforms increasingly focus on primary care.

The Commonwealth Fund supported the Affordable Care Act and praised President Obama's signature law in the report when discussing U.S. doctors' low measure of praise for the healthcare system.

"An array of policies in the Affordable Care Act envision primary care as central to efforts to achieve the Triple Aim of better health, better care and lower costs," study authors wrote.

"With major insurance expansion scheduled for 2014, there is the potential to lower access barriers for primary care and streamline insurance practices to free up physician and practice staff time to provide care." 

Critics of healthcare reform argue that it will impede patient care, raise costs and harm the economy by expanding government.

U.S. healthcare did rank highly on some measures compared with systems in other countries. American doctors were less likely to say that patients face a long wait to see specialists or difficulty getting specialized tests than their international peers.

The countries surveyed were Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States. Some form of universal coverage exists in all but Switzerland and the United States.

—This post was updated at 12:14 p.m.