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U.S. Scores Last in Healthcare Study

Posted by Jane Akre
Thursday, June 24, 2010 9:29 AM EST
Category: Major Medical
Tags: Healthcare Reform, Universal Coverage, Insurance, Uninsured, Commonwealth Fund


IMAGE SOURCE: ©iStockPhoto/ elderly woman/ author: Silva Jansen

While Americans proudly think of their healthcare system as the best in the world, a new report finds it is the least efficient among seven countries, delivering low quality for a high cost.

The report is the latest in a series from the nonoprofit Commonwealth Fund entitled, “Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: How the Performance of the U.S. Health Care System Compares Internationally, 2010 Update.

The nonprofit, that studies quality healthcare, ranks the United States last in comparison to Canada, Germany, Britain, Netherlands, Australia, and New Zealand, reports Reuters.

For example, Americans spend $7,290 per person on health annually, more than double that of any other country surveyed, and an increase from $6,697 per capita in 2005.

On the other end of the scale - Britons spend $2,992 and New Zealand spends the least at $2,454 per person per year.

Ranking first in the delivery of quality, efficiency, access, and equity is the Netherlands which spends $3,837 per person.

The U.S. ranked last or next to last in five areas of delivery - quality, access, efficiency, equity, and healthy lives – most notably due to the absence of universal health insurance coverage.

Obesity Rates

Obesity rates in the U.S. are blamed in part for the poor outcome even when compared to the older population of Germany and smoking in many European countries.

Commonwealth Fund reports are used by policymakers pressing for reform.

This is the latest update to three earlier editions in which the U.S. also ranked last overall. Data from the seven countries include patient and doctor surveys on the delivery and quality of medical care.

Newly enacted healthcare reform hopes to address these inequities by making medical coverage nearly universal by the year 2014, extending coverage to the 46 million Americans without health insurance.

Even when access is removed from consideration, the U.S. lags behind other countries in promoting primary health care by investing in disease prevention, quality improvement and in adopting new information technology.

"As an American it just bothers me that with all of our know-how, all of our wealth, that we are not assuring that people who need healthcare can get it," Commonwealth Fund president Karen Davis said. #

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