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Archive for Saturday, August 18, 2001

The more things change

August 18, 2001

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Despite tremendous upheaval in the financing and delivery of health care in the United States, Americans' use of health services has changed little since John F. Kennedy was president, a recent study finds.

Each month, an estimated 800 of every 1,000 American men, women and children experiences symptoms of illness. Of these, 217 visit a physician, 13 visit an emergency room and eight are hospitalized, researchers reported in a recent issue of The New England Journal of Medicine.

The report updates a 1961 study of the "ecology" of health care. The original study estimated that in a population of 1,000 adults, 750 reported an illness each month, 250 consulted a physician and nine were hospitalized.

Why so little change? The authors suggest that despite the tremendous change in delivery, basic human nature about whether to seek care and where to seek it has not changed.

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