Americans Said Unhappy With Health Care

THE United States has the highest level of per-person spending on health care, but its residents have the lowest level of satisfaction among citizens in 10 countries, according to an article in the new issue of ``Health Affairs.'' The survey found that only 10 percent of Americans say their health-care system works well, while 60 percent say the system needs fundamental changes, says Robert Blendon, one authors of the article published July 3.

``We conclude that American dissatisfaction arises from the interaction between our sharply rising health-care costs and the inadequate financial protection provided by our health insurance system,'' said the article, which is based on research by the Harvard Program on Public Opinion and Health Care.

Among the problems cited by US respondents were the lack of any guarantee of coverage, employers' ability to change the level of health-care coverage for employees, and the high level of deductibles, the article said.

The results of the survey of residents of Canada, the Netherlands, West Germany, France, Australia, Sweden, Japan, Britain, Italy, and the United States were disputed by the health insurance industry.

``In our own annual polling, Americans seem to be very satisfied with their own health insurance. Eighty-two percent are basically pleased with their own coverage,'' said Edward Neuschler, director of policy studies for the Health Insurance Association of America (HIAA), an industry trade group.

``But clearly there is some anxiety about what happens if they change or lose their jobs,'' said Mr. Neuschler. He added that HIAA has developed a reform proposal that would provide for continuity of health insurance for those changing jobs.

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