A new report from the Commonwealth Fund once again highlights the discrepancy between U.S. spending on healthcare and the quality of that care. The new analysis compares spending and health outcomes of seven industrialized nations: the U.S., U.K., Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Australia. And the authors find that, despite outspending other countries (and spending more than double per patient in many cases), the U.S. comes dead last in terms of overall quality of care. The findings drive home the point that ruffled so many feathers on both sides of the Atlantic during the debate over universal healthcare last summer: in spite of the fact that the U.S. devotes more dollars to medical care than countries with universal coverage, we continue to lag behind on common national health measures such as infant mortality to life expectancy.
The U.S. has consistently come last as well. In every such analysis conducted by the Commonwealth Fund in the last six years, the U.S. has fallen behind the other six countries studied. The authors write:
“The U.S. fails to achieve better health outcomes than the other countries, and as shown in the earlier editions, the U.S. is last on dimensions of access, patient safety, coordination, efficiency, and equity.”
Researchers found that U.S. healthcare delivery is consistently inefficient. For example, while only 6% of patients with chronic conditions in Germany or the Netherlands reported going to the emergency room for treatment they could have gotten in a doctor’s office, nearly one in five American adults with chronic conditions said they had done so.
While we fell solidly in the middle of the pack when it came to delivering effective and patient-centered care, on quality measures including safety and coordination between providers, the U.S. came last. And for access to care, the U.S. again lagged behind — despite spending more per person on healthcare than all of the other countries surveyed, more American patients reported forgoing medical care because they couldn’t afford it.
Read the full report here.