Cost called top barrier to healthcare

More than 41 million Americans reported problems receiving medical care last year, and nearly two-thirds cited cost as the reason, according to a study issued last week by the Center for Studying Health System Change (HSC).

The group estimates that almost 16 million people went without care they said they needed at some point in 2001, while some 26 million people delayed such care. Among people in these groups, about 62 percent said cost was the reason. Other problems include getting timely appointments with doctors, having medical providers accept their health insurance, and getting their health insurer to pay for services.

The survey also found that uninsured people were three times more than uninsured people to get needed care, and that lower-income families were twice as likely as higher-income families to have an unmet need.

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The findings are based on HSC's tracking survey, which involves about 60,000 people in 33,000 families.

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