Trends in Americans' Access to Needed Medical Care, 2001-2003

Publication Date: August 2004

Publisher: Center for Studying Health System Change

Author(s): Bradley C. Strunk; Peter J. Cunningham

Research Area: Health

Type: Report


Despite sluggish economic growth and rapidly rising health care costs, Americans' access to needed medical care improved between 2001 and 2003, especially among low-income children and adults, according to findings from the Center for Studying Health System Change's (HSC) nationally representative Community Tracking Study Household Survey. In particular, the proportion of low-income, uninsured Americans who reported going without needed medical care fell by 3.2 percentage points to 13.2 percent in 2003, and unmet medical needs for low-income children decreased to the point where income-related differences in access to care for children have disappeared. Nonetheless, about one in seven Americans reported difficulty obtaining needed care in 2003, and people reporting access problems increasingly cited cost as a barrier to care.