September 12, 2011
While the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act should provide some solutions to the United States’ health-care debacle, the fact remains that our country continues to lag behind other industrialized nations in terms of quality and affordability of medical care. A report from the U.S.-based nonprofit The Commonwealth Fund confirms as much by comparing the American health system to that of six other nations: Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom.
In the 2010 report, researchers from The Commonwealth Fund stated that while the United States maintains the costliest health-care system in the world, in terms of quality, access, and other performance indicators it ranks last or next-to-last compared to the care provided in the other six countries studied. The authors relied on data from patient and physician surveys that described medical experiences and rated care based on five dimensions including quality, efficiency, equity, patient safety, and access.
Researchers at The Commonwealth Fund acknowledged that they expect U.S. health-care reform to address some of the issues identified in the report in the coming years; however, the study still provided some shocking revelations. For example, the report stated that in 2007, U.S. health expenditures per person cost roughly twice that of the citizens of the country with the second highest health-care costs in the study, which was Canada. While the United States ranked last overall compared to the other six countries, it did achieve middle-of-the-road ratings in effective and patient-centered care, both subcategories of the quality of care dimension.
The 2010 report represents the fourth edition of the same study published by The Commonwealth Fund in the last six years, as well as the fourth time the United States received a last-place ranking. You may find the study, entitled Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: How the Performance of the U.S. Health Care System Compares Internationally, 2010 Update, online at www.commonwealthfund.org.