Are We Getting Enough Bang For Our Healthcare Buck? Hardly.

Philip Caper | Physicians For A National Health Program | July 17, 2014

The U.S. healthcare system costs each of us about twice as much as those in other wealthy countries. Are we getting our money’s worth? Not by a long shot.

According to the fifth and most recent of a series of reports spanning the past decade by The Commonwealth Fund, one of the world’s most respected independent health care think tanks, “the U.S. is last or near last on dimensions of access, efficiency, and equity” and last on overall quality of our system. The nations studied include Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Although the U.S. does have some advanced medical technology, as do most of the other countries studied, we do a lousy job of getting it to many of our people, leading to our poor scores on access.  We don’t compare particularly favorably when it comes to quality either. We score relatively poorly on safe and coordinated care, and while we score well on access to (lucrative) specialized care (but not primary care), that access does not translate into better outcomes. “The U.S. ranks last overall with poor scores on all three indicators of healthy lives — mortality amenable to medical care, infant mortality and healthy life expectancy at age 60.”...