US Healthcare Quality and Efficiency Stinks Compared to Other Developed Nations

study: health care in the US ranks last among developed countries
When it comes to the quality and efficiency of the health care system in developed nations, the US ranks dead last according to the annual Commonwealth Fund Mirror Mirror on the Wall survey (PDF). The report looks at how the US healthcare system compares to other developed nations around the world. In 2014, the US ranked 11th out of the 11 nations surveyed which included the following countries:

  • 1. United Kingdom
  • 2. Switzerland
  • 3. Sweden
  • 4. Australia
  • 5. Germany
  • 5. Netherlands
  • 7. New Zealand
  • 7. Norway
  • 9. France
  • 10. Canada
  • 11. United States

The last place ranking can’t be pinned on the Affordable Care Act (commonly referred to as Obamacare), but it can be seen as an overall healthcare trend for the last decade. Most of the numbers for the report were collected before Obamacare was fully implemented. The US also ranked dead last in 2004, 2006, 2007, and 2010.

The report found that the US ends up spending $8,508 on average for health care per person. This amount is over 100% more per person than was spent on average per person in the United Kingdom ($3,406), yet the UK was still able to provide better service in every category studied, including quality care (effective, safe, coordinated and patient-centered), access (cost-related and timeliness), efficiency, equity and healthy lives. All 10 nations were able to spend less per person on average than is spent in the US, but they still outrank the US in quality and efficiency.

The US ranked last of all the nations in access (cost related), efficiency, equity and healthy lives. It fared poorly in areas such as preventable deaths, partly because as many as 33% of Americans report skipping treatment and tests due to high costs. This area may change in the coming years with the Affordable Care Act reducing some of these costs for people who couldn’t previously afford them, and giving more access to preventative care. The US also scored poorly on infant mortality, and a healthy life expectancy, which came in at 60 years of age.

While it might be assumed the capitalistic society of the US would make it rank better in efficiency, healthcare administrative costs and expenditures, in addition to repetitive and unnecessary emergency room use, put it in last place. The US was unable to grab either a number one or number two spot in any of the categories studied. It did manage a third-place ranking for effective care, and a fourth-place ranking for patient-centered care. The report concluded that the last place ranking wasn’t all that surprising since many more people in the US go without needed healthcare compared to other countries, since there is an absence of universal coverage.

Healthcare costs, as shown in the report, take away a lot of the spending and saving power of those who live in the US. It can be quite difficult to put away money when a single sickness or accident can end up putting a person into a lot of debt, and the average $8,500 a year in medical cost can take a tremendous toll on a family’s personal finances even when there isn’t a major illness during the year.

(Photo courtesy of Mark Evans)

This entry was posted in Health, Medical, Personal Finance and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to US Healthcare Quality and Efficiency Stinks Compared to Other Developed Nations

  1. Chris says:

    ” All 10 nations were able to spend less per person on average than is spent in the US, but still outrank the US in quality and efficiency.”

    Yea, yea, but were any of these other countries able to produce as many billionaires in the healthcare industry as the US? I think NOT!

    /end obvious sarcasm.

  2. Archer Crosley says:

    I think this article is ludicrous. If healthcare is so bad here, then why do people from all over the world come to our facilities? This article seems to have a political purpose to it, to support Obamacare which will ultimately bring VA medicine to all.

  3. Chris says:

    “I think this article is ludicrous. If healthcare is so bad here, then why do people from all over the world come to our facilities?”

    Because there are many countries in the world who have worse health care systems/availability. That doesn’t mean we have the most superior system, just superior to those places. It can both be true that people could come to the US for better health care, and other countries have better systems than our own.

    If you have examples of significant numbers of people from countries above the US on that list coming to the US for care, please share them. If the people flocking to the US for care are from 3rd world countries, well, that’s not saying too much.

    My father has lived in Thailand 1/2 of the year since he retired 7 years ago, and his experience has been that he gets better care, quicker and far less expensively in Thailand than he does in the US.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*