Americans want overhaul of health system: survey

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CHICAGO (Reuters) – More than 80 percent of Americans think the U.S. health system needs either fundamental change or a complete overhaul, according to a survey released on Thursday.

Access to care, better coordination between different health providers and better flow of health information were among their chief complaints, the Harris Interactive poll found — just as another poll found that health insurance costs have doubled for Americans since 1996.

“It’s clear that our health care system isn’t giving Americans the health care they need and deserve,” said Karen Davis, president of the nonprofit Commonwealth Fund, which commissioned the survey.

Both major presidential candidates, Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain, have pledged to address problems with the U.S. health system. About 47 million Americans do not have insurance.

In the poll, which surveyed a random sample of 1,004 U.S. adults in May, 32 percent agreed the system needed complete rebuilding, while 50 percent thought it required fundamental change.

These views were similar regardless of income and insurance status, with 81 percent of those who were insured for the prior year and 89 percent who were uninsured during the prior year calling for either fundamental change or complete rebuilding.

Overall, 16 percent of adults said the health care system works relatively well and needed only minor reform.

Most said health insurance needs to be simplified, and 9 out of 10 said they supported the wider use of health information systems that could improve coordination between health providers

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