Despite having the most expensive healthcare system, the United States ranks last overall among eleven wealthy industrialised countries on measures of health system quality, efficiency, access to care, equity, and healthy lives, according to a new Commonwealth Fund report. The United Kingdom ranks best, with Switzerland following a close second.
The other countries included in the study were Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.
While there is room for improvement in every country, the US stands out for having the highest costs and lowest performance – the US spent $8,508 per person on healthcare in 2011, compared with $3,406 in the United Kingdom, which ranked first overall.
It is fairly well-accepted that the US has the most expensive healthcare system in the world, but many continue to assume falsely that US citizens pay more for healthcare because they get better health (or better health outcomes). The evidence, however, clearly does not support that view.
The United States’ ranking is went down substantially by deficiencies in access to primary care and inequities and inefficiencies in the health care system, according to The Commonwealth Fund in its latest report titled Mirror, Mirror On The Wall – 2014 Update. Though the US has the most expensive health care system in the world, the nation ranks lowest in terms of ‘efficiency, equity and outcomes,’ according to the report.
One of the sharpest revelations is that the high rate of expenditure for insurance is not commensurate with the satisfaction of patients or quality of service. High out-of-pocket costs and gaps in coverage ‘undermine efforts in the US to improve care coordination.’ the report summarised.
Despite these shortcomings, positives noted include the breadth of reforms spearheaded by the Affordable Care Act, including new databases for transparent information and financial assistance for low-income and middle-income families in gaining coverage. “Those efforts will likely help clinicians deliver more effective and efficient care,” the report concludes.
The ranking is as follows:
- United Kingdom
- Germany and Netherlands (tied)
- New Zealand and Norway (tied)
- The United States
According to World Health organization (WHO) rankings, released in 2000, Indian healthcare system ranks 112th in the world – way behind countries like Colombia, Sri Lanka and Egypt.
The highest-ranking Asian nation is Singapore, at 6. Japan is a respectable 10th. Surprisingly, the United States is 38th. Perhaps that is indicative of the challenges in the healthcare system.