US Healthcare System Under-Performing Despite Being Most Expensive, Shows Study

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14th July 2014 12:56 - Health

Despite having the most expensive healthcare system in the world, the United States (US) consistently underperforms when it comes to quality care, access, efficiency and equity, according to a study conducted by The Commonwealth Fund (TCF).

The report studied the structure of health care systems in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK and the US.

Across the four areas measured, the US ranked last in the latest edition of the ‘Mirror, Mirror’ study – as it did in 2010, 2007, 2006 and 2004.

TCF’s study asked patients and physicians to rate their healthcare experiences in the following areas: quality care – effective care, safe care, co-ordinated care and patient-centred care; access – cost-related problems and timeliness of care; efficiency and equity, and the countries were then ranked accordingly on an 11-point scale.

Notably, the UK was in the top two for all but one of the investigated areas. Canada, Norway and the US were the only countries not to rank in the top two for any of the choices.

A break-down of the survey’s rankings are detailed below:

  AUS CAN FRA GER NETH NZ NOR SWE SWIZ UK US
Overall Ranking 4 10 9 5 5 7 7 3 2 1 11
Quality Care 2 9 8 7 5 4 11 10 3 1 5
Effective Care 4 7 9 6 5 2 11 10 8 1 3
Safe Care 3 10 2 6 7 9 11 5 4 1 7
Co-ordinated Care 4 8 9 10 5 2 7 11 3 1 6
Patient-Centred Care 5 8 10 7 3 6 11 9 2 1 4
Access 8 9 11 2 4 7 6 4 2 1 9
Cost-Related Problems 9 5 10 4 8 6 3 1 7 1 11
Timeliness of Care 6 11 10 4 2 7 8 9 1 3 5
Efficiency 4 10 8 9 7 3 4 2 6 1 11
Equity 5 9 7 4 8 10 6 1 2 2 11

NB: One relates to the highest ranking, and 11 equates to the lowest.

Overall, the UK healthcare system was ranked most highly, followed by Switzerland and Sweden. The US remained at the bottom, with Canada a not-too-distant 10th.

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