The U.S. is lagging in dealing with healthcare problems such as access, cost and insurance complexity when compared with residents of 10 other nations, a new study by the Commonwealth Fund indicates.

Comprehensive health reform could lead to improvements in many of these areas, the report concluded.

Barriers to access to care and cost of care in the United States, along with wide disparities by income, “underscore the importance of the Affordable Care Act’s emphasis on insurance expansion, benefit standards and limits on costs for those with lower incomes,” the report stated.

The U.S. has the opportunity to learn from insurance innovations in other countries, including value-based benefit design, the authors said.

The study found that one-third of U.S. adults went without recommended care, did not see a doctor when sick, or failed to fill prescriptions because of costs, compared with as few as 5 % of adults in the United Kingdom and 6% in the Netherlands who reported such problems.

Only 57% of adults in the U.S. saw their doctor the same or next day when they were sick, compared with 70% of U.K. adults, 72% of Dutch adults, 78% of New Zealand adults and 93% of Swiss adults, the report also found.

The report said 46% of U.S. adults with below-average incomes who were insured all year went without needed care, double the rate reported by above-average-income U.S. adults with insurance.

Moreover, one-fifth of U.S. adults had major problems paying medical bills, compared with 9% or less in other countries studied, the Commonwealth Fund, New York, found.

-Arthur Postal