Americans who become seriously ill often feel confused and helpless, experience major problems with their care or, even if they have health insurance, face the risk of financial ruin. (Photo: Shutterstock)

Lots of Americans who can least afford the additional stress are being left in the dirt by the U.S. health care system, says a new joint study from the Commonwealth Fund, The New York Times and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

The goal of the report “is to understand whether our health care system is doing all it can do not just to treat illness but to help people cope with illness.” Exploring such areas as where the system fails to meet people’s needs, how it’s “adding to already heavy burdens” and whether the most seriously ill can even afford the care provided by the health system, the study found plenty of room for improvement.

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Marlene Satter

Marlene Y. Satter has worked in and written about the financial industry for decades.

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