Health care: ‘We’re #11!’

The U.S. has a lousy health care system, a new survey says. But don’t rush to blame it on the Affordable Care Act. We’ve had a lousy health care system for 10 years. The survey data for the year was taken before ACA went into effect, but experts say the ACA alone won’t make much difference. That’s how bad our health care system is.

The survey released today shows the U.S. is dead last among industrial states, according to the Commonwealth Fund.

We pay more for health care than any other country.

Commonweath Fund

And yet it’s the least efficient care…

The report suggested universal health care could make a difference.

Other nations ensure the accessibility of care through universal health systems and through better ties between patients and the physician practices that serve as their medical homes. The Affordable Care Act is increasing the number of Americans with coverage and improving access to care, though the data in this report are from years prior to the full implementation of the law. Thus, it is not surprising that the U.S. underperforms on measures of access and equity between populations with above- average and below-average incomes.

The U.S. also ranks behind most countries on many measures of health outcomes, quality, and efficiency. U.S. physicians face particular difficulties receiving timely information, coordinating care, and dealing with administrative hassles. Other countries have led in the adoption of modern health information systems, but U.S. physicians and hospitals are catching up as they respond to significant financial incentives to adopt and make meaningful use of health information technology systems. Additional provisions in the Affordable Care Act will further encourage the efficient organization and delivery of health care, as well as investment in important preventive and population health measures.

Related: Five ways the American health care system is literally the worst (Vox).

  • Gary F

    6-7 years ago a buddy of mine moved to England. The large financial company gave him a list of must do things both required and/or recommended for him to do. Most of these items were tax related, or legal items, one item on the list was “Buy a supplemental health insurance program”..

    He is sure glad he did. He had rotator cuff surgery and was the envy of the office, He got his surgery scheduled promptly, within a few weeks and not months, and got prompt and thorough rehab. Something he wouldn’t have got on NHS. People in the office couldn’t believe the great service he got.

    • John

      That’s a fair point, but since the chart above includes the total cost of all healthcare in a country (if I’m interpreting it correctly) as a function of GDP, the money your friend spent on the supplemental insurance should be captured in the graph.

      The point to me is this: Right now, we’re getting screwed – in terms of quality of care for the price we’re paying. It looks like as a percentage of GDP, we’re paying about 80% more than the other 10 countries on the list, and we’re dead last in quality of care.

  • kennedy

    With health care in the USA being so expensive, I would expect more people making healthy lifestyle choices to avoid needing health care. However, this chart mirrors my personal experience that people in the USA are generally not making healthy lifestyle choices that are more common in other countries.