Background: Chronic conditions are the leading reason why people seek medical care, yet the current financing and delivery system has been criticized for not promoting ongoing care. The perceptions of physicians, policymakers, and the general public were compared on how well the current system addresses the needs of people with chronic conditions.
Methods: National surveys of 1238 physicians and 1663 Americans and a convenience sample of 155 policymakers were compared. All 3 groups were given the same definition of a chronic condition and asked similar questions.
Results: There was strong agreement that chronic medical conditions affect men and women of all ages, ethnicities, and income levels (>90% strongly or somewhat agree). However, compared with the public and physicians, policymakers were less likely to respond that people with chronic conditions usually receive adequate medical care, that health insurance pays for most needed services, or that government programs are adequate. The public was most positive about the current system and policymakers the least. A majority of all 3 groups agreed that it is somewhat or very difficult for people with chronic conditions to obtain adequate care from primary care physicians, medical specialists, and other health care professionals.
Conclusions: A majority of physicians, policymakers, and the general public are concerned that the current health care system is not addressing the needs of people with chronic conditions. Changes in how medical care is financed and delivered are necessary to respond to these concerns.