While 15 million Americans reported going without needed medical care at some point in the past 12 months, the proportion of those saying they had an unmet medical need decreased slightly from 2001 to 2003, according to a national study by the Center for Studying Health System Change, Washington. Almost 14% of the U.S. population, or roughly 39 million people, reported going without or delaying needed medical care in 2003, according to the survey, which included information on 25,400 families and 46,600 people. Americans without health insurance were more than three times as likely to report missing needed care, the study found. However, the proportion of uninsured, low-income people who had an unmet medical need decreased by 3.2 percentage points from 2001 to 2003. Federal, state and local efforts to support safety net providers "likely contributed to the modest improvements in access to medical care," Paul Ginsburg, the center's president, said in a news release. HHS spokesman Bill Pierce said the study is good news showing how Bush administration efforts to expand access, such as through community health centers, are working. "The end result is not health insurance; the end result is healthcare. People forget that sometimes," Pierce said. The HSC study follows information released last week by the U.S. Census Bureau, which said that the number of Americans without health insurance reached 45 million last year, up from 43.6 million in 2002. -- by Jeff Tieman
Millions of Americans go without medical care
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