America’s healthcare system has been condemned as the most expensive and least effective in the developed world, according to a new study from the Commonwealth Fund think-tank.
It is the fourth time the US has ranked last in terms of effectiveness in the global survey, which was started back in 1994. The study analyses average costs versus five major factors: health, quality, efficiency, access and equity.
Great Britain’s healthcare system was ranked the best in the world in terms of the quality of service versus the amount spent. This is despite the fact that per-capita healthcare spending in Britain is just $3,182, the second lowest in the group of nations surveyed. The US, meanwhile, spends $8,508 per person.
Britain was followed by Switzerland, Sweden, Australia and Germany and the Netherlands, who were tied.
One of the report’s authors, Karen Davis from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, lamented America’s performance, but did say that she believes that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or ‘Obamacare’ will make “a huge difference” as millions more Americans become insured.
She praised Britain’s National Health Service for having made “huge progress” in reducing waiting times and providing access to specialists. She said Britain was now one of the top-performing countries in the world when it came to waiting times.
According to CNBC, there are a variety of factors that have resulted in the US performing so poorly when it comes to healthcare compared to its other developed neighbours:
“Many less-affluent U.S. residents experienced longer-than-average wait times in seeing doctors and in being able to afford those services in the first place. The U.S. was also last in rankings on infant mortality, and second-to-last in healthy life expectancy at age 60, the study found.”
And America was ranked last in efficiency, as a result of excessive time and money spend on dealing with insurance administration, lack of communication between medical providers and duplicative tests.”
The report concluded that that while all countries can improve on the quality of care they offer, the US has more to do than any other given the vast amounts it spends on healthcare each year, often with very little to show for it:
“For all countries, responses indicate need for improvement. Yet, the other 10 countries spend considerably less on health care person person, and as a percent of gross domestic product than does the United States. These findings indicate that, from the perspectives of both physicians and patients, the U.S. health care system could do much better in achieving value for the nation’s substantial investment in health.”
Founded in 1948 by the Labour Government led by Prime Minister Clement Attlee, Britain’s National Health Service operates on a basic principle: all contribute, so all are covered. The NHS provides cradle-to-grave healthcare coverage for the entire population, and is funded through general taxation rather than private insurance programs.
Aneurin Bevan, the Minister for Health in the post-war Labour Government, summed up the feeling of the time:
“No society can legitimately call itself civilised if a sick person is denied medical aid because of a lack of means.”
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