Preventive medicine—including complementary therapies such as massage, chiropractic, herbs and yoga—can stave off trips to the hospital. According to a majority of Americans, that might be a good thing.

A new survey shows that 72 percent of Americans think the U.S. health care system needs to be fundamentally changed or completely rebuilt, according to a just-released, nationwide survey.

“The concerns reflect widespread experiences with access barriers, poorly coordinated care and growing costs,” a Commonwealth Fund press release noted. “The survey also reveals strong support for more patient-centered care systems and innovative use of teams and information systems.”

The Commonwealth Fund was founded in 1918 with the goal of helping create a high-performing health care system.

The new survey found that:

• 71 percent of respondents reported problems gaining access to needed health care. These concerns included the inability to get timely doctors’ appointments or advice from their doctor on the phone, or to obtain after-hours care without going to an emergency room.

• 47 percent of respondents reported poorly coordinated care.

• 54 percent reported wasteful care.

• 20 percent reported they or a family member ended up with an infection or complication as a result of medical care, or said that a health care provider made a surgical or medical mistake.

• 74 percent of respondents worry they won’t get high quality care when they need it, or won’t be able to afford their medical bills if they become seriously ill.

“It’s not surprising that people worry about the future, given the problems they are currently experiencing in the health care system,” said report co-author and Commonwealth Fund Senior Vice President Cathy Schoen. “Health care is too often unaffordable, hard to get when needed, and wasteful or poorly coordinated.

In the survey report, “A Call for Change: The Commonwealth Fund 2011 Survey of Public Views of The U.S. Health System,” the authors note that nearly all adults (85 percent or more) support policies that would make care better coordinated and would provide more transparent information about health care costs and quality.

The report is available at www.commonwealthfund.org.

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