Even though America has the most expensive health care system in the world, the United States ranked last in a study of health care in 11 developed nations. The report conducted by the Commonwealth Fund found that the US system performed poorly according to most metrics.
“The United States healthcare system is the most expensive in the world, but this report and prior editions consistently show the U.S. underperforms relative to other countries on most dimensions of performance,” an executive summary to the report states.
The most troubling of the report’s conclusions: The US system did the worst job of delivering basic medical care to average people even though America spends more than twice as much on health care than most of the other nations surveyed. The report also found that American health care is less efficient and less technologically advanced than that in some other nations.
America’s Ailing Health Care System Examined
The survey, Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, 2014 Update: How the U.S. Health Care System Compares Internationally, compared health care systems in 12 countries: the USA, the United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, Canada, the Netherlands, France, New Zealand, Sweden, Switzerland and Norway in 2011.
The United States spends $8,508 a year on health care for the average citizen. Australia spends $3,800 a year, Canada $4,522 a year and the United Kingdom $3,405 a year.
Some of the survey’s conclusions:
- Americans were twice as likely to die from preventable or treatable medical conditions as Australians and Swedes.
- The death rate for infants in the United States was more than twice that in Sweden and Norway.
- The US healthcare system was the least efficient of those surveyed. Also, the US is behind the other countries surveyed in the adoption of information technology in health care.
- The US system does not reward efficiency or the use of the latest information technology.
- Even though the US health care system did the best job of encouraging preventative care, Americans were still the unhealthiest people surveyed.
- The UK’s vaunted National Health Service system isn’t as effective as some of its apologists claim. The infant mortality rate in the United Kingdom was twice that of Sweden. Britain also ranked 10th in a survey of healthy lives, nearly as bad as the USA.
- Canada’s health care system is also very inefficient: Canadians had the longest wait time for medical treatment of all the countries surveyed.
- The French were the healthiest of the countries surveyed. Sweden came in second, Switzerland third.
Americans had the most access to specialists and advanced health care but the least access to basic health care, the report said. One third of poor Americans reported not seeking needed health care because they could not afford it.
This survey doesn’t take Obamacare into account because it was conducted in 2011, before most of the provisions of the Affordable Care Act went into effect.
Americans are paying more for less health care. Unfortunately, the report doesn’t provide any answers.
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