US health care stacks up poorly with other countries. Again.

A recent study by the Commonwealth Fund highlights what Americans experience in what passes for our healthcare “system” — higher costs, higher risks, and more stress. You can read about it on Chris Fleming’s excellent Health Affairs blog here, or else see the full study published here, in the journal Health Affairs.

The study surveyed eleven countries: Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Survey samples sizes per country ranged from 1,000 to more than 3,500. From Chris Fleming’s blog, here’s a taste of a few things the survey showed.

• Twenty percent of US adults surveyed said they had had serious problems paying medical bills in the previous year. Responses to the same question from the other ten countries were all in the single digits. US respondents were also significantly more likely than adults in other countries to have gone without care because of cost.

• Thirty-five percent of US adults had out-of-pocket medical spending of $1,000 during the previous year, a far higher percentage than in any other country.

• Nearly one third of US adults (31 percent) reported either denial of payments by insurers or time-consuming interactions with insurers, a higher rate than in all other countries. Twenty-five percent of US respondents reported that their insurance company denied payment or did not pay as much as expected; 17 percent said they spent a lot of time on paperwork or disputes for medical bills or insurance — the highest rates in the survey.

• The United States had the widest and most pervasive differences in access and affordability by income of the eleven countries. The United Kingdom had the least.

We didn’t finish last in everything, at least — patients in Canada, Norway, and Sweden reported longer waits on average to see the doctor. But the key point to me is that America spends far, far more per capita on healthcare than any other country. For what we’re paying, we should get the best. We’re not. And those costs just have to come down — they’re unsustainable.


One response to “US health care stacks up poorly with other countries. Again.”

  1. Your abso-ta-lutely right Chris, American Healthcare SUCKS!! thats why Fidel Castro got his Aortic Valve replacement in Australia, I mean Canada, I mean France, I mean Germany, I mean, umm have I made my point?
    No?, well what about the Governor of New Foundland(thats in Canada), when he needed a CABG, did he get it in New Foundland? Quebec? Ontario? British Columbia? OK, thats all the Canadian States I remember, NO!!!! He came to the #1 Country in the World, the U S of A!!!
    $1,0000 out of pocket health care expenses, Oh My God, thats Like, SO……….. Expensive.
    Heck, my wife has shoes that cost more than that, and we’re not rich. OK, we’re in the 35% tax bracket, but its not like we’re Billionaires or anything.
    And to prove I read your whole post,
    I’ve been to Canada, Saskatcha something, when I was a kid, there were like 7 people in the whole State, and I couldn’t even get any Canadian money, they all had American dollars…

    But I’ll let you go, I know you probably have to medevac some sick kid to Holland, I mean Norway, I mean Sweden..

    Ummm and you don’t know this being from Minnesota, but what do all those countries with great healthcare have in common with your state??? Yes, I’m playing the “What am I thinking Game”


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