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Study Shows Many Americans Lack Confidence in Health Care System

Protesters rally against new US health care legislation
Protesters rally against new US health care legislation

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Carol Pearson

The health care debate in the United States is far from over despite the passage of health care legislation.  Studies show about half of Americans lack confidence in their health care system. Others are pushing for a repeal of the health care legislation, and still others put off getting medical help even after a heart attack because they worry about paying for their care.

Americans are just as divided on health care as they were before President Obama's health reform legislation became law.

Protesters in Washington carried signs on Thursday calling for repeal of the legislation.  They say it represents runaway spending.

A new Associated Press-GfK poll shows that 50 percent of Americans oppose the new health care law and opposition is strongest among those 64 and older. Many older Americans worry that their care will be affected by cuts in federal payments to hospitals and other providers.

In another survey, this one by Ipsos/Reuters, only 51 percent of Americans thought they could get adequate, affordable health care. The survey included people in 22 nations.  Women, adults under the age of 55 and less educated people in all the countries included in the study reported low satisfaction with health care access.

Yet another study showed that Americans without medical insurance, often delay going to a hospital after a heart attack.  Dr. Paul Chan was one of the researchers.

"Forty-nine percent of uninsured patients were more likely to wait more than six hours before coming into the hospital and 45 percent of patients with health care insurance but with financial concerns in accessing medical care waited more than six hours before coming into the hospital."

Every minute counts when someone is having a heart attack. This helicopter crew knows that. Doctors say these patients need to get medical care within two hours for the best results. By the time some patients in the study sought help, their hearts were already damaged.  

Larry Scott now uses a wheel chair. He put off going to the hospital after a heart attack because he was worried about money.

"If I had the medical insurance, this wouldn't have happened," said Scott.  "This would have been taken care of right then and there."

The researchers studied more than 3,700 patients who had heart attacks and came to emergency rooms for treatment.   

"We concluded that health care insurance plays a huge role in determining whether or not patients are able to come to the hospital promptly enough when they have symptoms of a heart attack," added Dr. Chan.

The researchers say this is the first study linking health insurance to the decision to seek treatment for a heart attack. The study reflects the ongoing problems in US health care. It was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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