U.S. party affiliation determines healthcare system satisfaction

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Politics play a role in healthcare satisfaction.  

A survey conducted by Harvard University School of Public Health and Harris Interactive found that healthcare system satisfaction varies widely in the United States on the basis of respondents political party affiliations.
Self-identified Republicans are most likely to call the system the best in the world (68 percent), compared with 32 percent of Democrats and 40 percent of independents, according to a report published by Reuters.
The survey, conducted this month, includes a representative sample of 1,026 respondents and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percent.
In addition, the survey reported that 26 percent of its respondents believed the U.S. is better than other countries in providing affordable universal healthcare access, and 21 percent said the country was better at controlling healthcare costs.
In stark contrast to the Harvard and Harris survey, the non-profit Commonwealth Fund reported late last year in its seven-nation healthcare satisfaction survey that that U.S. patients are more likely to report experiencing medical errors, to go without care because of costs, and to say that the healthcare system needs to be rebuilt completely.
The survey of 12,000 adults in Australia, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States, found that one third of U.S. adults called for rebuilding the system, the highest rate in any country surveyed. The U.S. also ranked last in saying only minor changes were required in the health system.
In addition, the Commonwealth Fund survey reported that the U.S. also stands out for symptoms of more fragmented and inefficient care:

  • One of four U.S. adults report coordination problems, either medical records not available during their doctor visit or duplication of tests—the highest rate of any country in the survey.
  • One of five U.S adults report a time doctors recommended treatment the patient thought had little or no benefit; this rate was also high in Germany.
  • Only the Netherlands (31 percent) topped the U.S. (24 percent) for the percentage of people who spent time on paperwork or disputes related to medical bills or insurance. In the other countries, fewer than 15 percent reported this concern.
  • In the past two years, 36 percent of U.S. adults visited an emergency room; only Canada had a higher rate (39 percent). In both the U.S. and Canada, about 40 percent of those with an emergency room visit said the visit was for a condition that could have been treated by their regular doctor if available.