Wednesday, June 23, 2010

New Report: Out of Seven Wealthy Countries, US Health Care Quality Worst But Most Expensive

The Commonwealth Fund has released a report (click here) summarizing findings on the quality of U.S. health care compared with that of seven wealthy countries: Australia, Canada, Germany, The Netherlands, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. According to their calculations, in spite of costing more than twice as much as Australia, its nearest cost-competitor among the seven, the U.S. ranks dead last in quality.

The study measures quality along various dimensions: effective care, safe care, coordinated care, patient-centered care, access to care in terms of timeliness and cost-related issues, efficiency, equity, long, healthy and productive lives, and cost. The only measure where the U.S. was even remotely competitive was in the area of patient-centered care and effective care, where the U.S. came in fourth out of seven. Whereas the U.S. spends an estimated $7290 per capita (yes! for every man, woman and child!), Holland (the Netherlands), which ranks first, spends and estimated $3837 per capita and New Zealand, which ranks fifth, spends only $2454 for better health care than the U.S.

The Obama administration last year got Congress to pass a health care bill that did little more than expand Medicaid and force 30 million more people on the rolls, without doing anything about cost containment, perhaps the single most serious problem with our health care. The pharmaceutical and insurance companies in the U.S. were very happy with the bill, having written large portions of it, insuring that their profits would remain fat. If you get sick, by the way, you should get sick in Holland, which ranks first in quality, and costs only $3837 per capita

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