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Culp-Ressler writes: "For the fifth time in a row, the United States has been ranked last in a prominent think tank's review of industrialized nation's health care systems."

Americans don't get what they pay for when it comes to health care. (illustration: Shutterstock)
Americans don't get what they pay for when it comes to health care. (illustration: Shutterstock)


The US Has the Most Expensive and Least Effective Health Care in the Developed World

By Tara Culp-Ressler, ThinkProgress

17 June 14

 

or the fifth time in a row, the United States has been ranked last in a prominent think tank’s review of industrialized nation’s health care systems. Compared to other wealthy countries like Germany, France, Switzerland, and Australia, the U.S. lags far behind when it comes to ensuring health care access, efficiency, and equity:

Among the nations included in the Commonwealth Fund’s survey, the highest percentage of U.S. residents skip out on the medical care they need because they can’t afford it. Thirty-seven percent of Americans said they didn’t fill a prescription, visit a doctor, or seek out recommended medical care because they were worried about the cost; on the other end of the spectrum, just four percent of United Kingdom residents reported skimping on that care for the same concerns. That’s largely because the United States is the only country on the list that doesn’t offer universal health care, leaving a proportion of its population uninsured and unable to pay for medical services out of pocket.

The new report falls in line with previous research that has found Americans pay much more for their health care than the residents in other wealthy nations, even though those high price tags don’t necessarily correlate to better care. And the authors note that while other industrialized nations have enacted policy reforms to nudge their health systems in the right direction, the United States hasn’t significantly improved in these areas over the past decade.

However, the data that contributes to Commonwealth Fund’s survey was collected before Obamacare officially took effect. The authors point out that the “historic legislation” represents an “important first step” to fixing some of the United States’ persistent issues with high costs and lack of access to insurance. The health reform law hopes to expand insurance coverage to millions of Americans who have been locked out of the health care system, and that could finally improve the U.S.’s rankings in areas like access and equity.

But there are still some gaps. Thanks to GOP lawmakers’ resistance to Obamacare’s optional Medicaid expansion, which would extend public insurance to additional struggling Americans, about six million of the country’s poorest residents are still left with no access to affordable health care whatsoever.

“The claim that the United States has ‘the best health care system in the world’ is clearly not true,” the report authors conclude. “To reduce cost and improve outcomes, the U.S. must adopt and adapt lessons from effective health care systems both at home and around the world.”

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+19 # fredboy 2014-06-17 09:12
Finally we can counter-argue the typical BS mantra, "But we have the BEST healthcare system in the world."

No we don't. It is a mess. And a dirty mess too (like the time I was having minor surgery and looked up to see a massive dust bunny--hell, a dust rabbit--flailin g in the vent breeze directly above me).
 
 
+34 # DD1946 2014-06-17 09:30
It can't change till health is about health, not profits!
 
 
+8 # lorenbliss 2014-06-17 13:15
Absolutely. The health-care difference between the civilized world and the United States is that in the civilized world, health care is intended to genuinely care for the people. But in the U.S., what is deceptively labeled “health care” actually has an antithetical purpose. It exists (A)-to make the obscenely wealthy aristocracy wealthier and (B)-to exterminate lower-income people by defining health care as a privilege of wealth rather than a basic human right.

Moreover, the Affordable Care Act – so-called “Obamacare” – does nothing to change the U.S. system's genocidal Ayn Rand dynamics. In fact it locks them in place forever.

By making health insurance mandatory, it enables USian propagandists to generate the Big Lie of near-universal insurance. But its profit-boosting co-pays and deductibles still make health care prohibitively expensive. Hence its victims – and that is precisely what we are – are now forced to pay for insurance we can never afford to use. The result is the huge windfall with which Barack the Betrayer gifted the insurance barons.

It is also a classic example of the miasma of lies, disinformation and murder by which capitalism perpetuates its bottomless evil – infinite greed elevated to maximum virtue – the morally imbecilic rejection of every humanitarian precept our species has ever expressed.
 
 
+19 # glyde 2014-06-17 09:58
Why does no one write about the single payer health care access enjoyed by our congress and other federal employers. I find it odd that these people have what all Europeans and others enjoy while they deny it to the rest of the US.
 
 
+9 # PaineRad 2014-06-17 12:03
Because they don't have single-payer. They have employer provided health insurance, just like millions of other employees whose employers partially pay for the insurance. My father was a federal employee in the US Forest Service. He had Blue Cross/Blue Shield coverage until he turned 65. Then he had Medicare with a Blue Cross supplement. That is what my mother has still.

Medicare is a single-payer insurance program. The pre-65 coverage that Congress and all other federal employees (other than veterans) who qualify have is not.
 
 
+17 # Archie1954 2014-06-17 10:06
The reason the US comes last is because in that capitalist nation, the elites come first. Everything is for sale and everything costs an arm and a leg including your own. For every insured person who dies because his/her insurance denied coverage, some tycoon adds to his fortune.
 
 
-17 # MidwesTom 2014-06-17 10:18
Our system historically have developed most of the advances in medicine.
 
 
+14 # PCPrincess 2014-06-17 10:37
That's just not true. Also, note that invention and ideas occur with or without money. That invention is expensive is just another lie peddled by those who stand to lose the most with a healthcare system removed from capitalism.
 
 
-9 # Roland 2014-06-17 11:25
"American researchers are responsible for a disproportionat e number of breakthrough medicines and procedures. Scientific research conducted in the U.S. contributed to at least 20 of the top 27 diagnostic and therapeutic advances of the last 40 years, according to a 2009 study for the Cato Institute by economist Glen Whitman and physician Raymond Raad. The European Union and Switzerland contributed to just 14 of those breakthroughs." quote from Salley C. Pipes in the WSJ 2013 - she is / was president, CEO and fellow in health care studies at the Pacific Research Institute.
 
 
+5 # PaineRad 2014-06-17 12:10
Pipes and the PRI are far from objective or even honest. Come back with some reliable data, please.
 
 
+5 # tabonsell 2014-06-17 16:53
It's true that United States researchers have made many breakthroughs in medical procedures. What isn't often cited is that nearly all those advancements were made with government financing the research with grants. Without this money from Uncle Sam, American researchers would not be making nearly as many breakthroughs as they do.


But, according to the political right, that is "wasteful government spending" and the right is trying to put an end to such frivolous wasting of "taxpayer money."
 
 
+9 # Working Class 2014-06-17 17:28
Not necessarily true Tom. Much of the research is funded by US taxpayer money and then we allow the profit to be privatized. This is especially true in the area of pharmaceuticals , but also in many other areas of medicine as well. The Pharmaceutical industry spends more on TV ads than it spends of its own money on researching new or better treatments.
 
 
+14 # reiverpacific 2014-06-17 10:39
Quoting MidwesTom:
Our system historically have developed most of the advances in medicine.

Nonsense (The US doesn't HAVE a "System")!
What HAS been developed here was not been made available to most Americans*, thanks to the restrictions on distribution and use placed on available treatment by big Pharma and Insurance, often in collusion and their patsies in government.
My late ex-wife was completely buggered-up in the early days of microsurgery by a prima-donna specialist in San Francisco. In subsequent annual checks on her condition after she'd recovered and was able to travel, in Australia, Singapore France and Scotland, the doctors were horrified that only one surgeon had performed the whole procedure.
And the follow up at the Mountain States Tumor Institute in Boise screwed her up even further.
I could write a small tome on just that case but there's much more, which I'm compiling for my colleagues at HCAO (Health care for All Oregon).
Here's another one for those ignoramuses who howl about "Waiting times" (I've waited way longer here for a simple procedure or check than any other country; some even take walk-ins): http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/06/06/1305021/-Every-single-thing-is-a-nightmare-in-the-American-health-care-non-system-Look-at-this?detail=email
To echo the prescient observation of Tatanka Leyoté (Sitting Bull, Hunkpapa); *"The (US) White Man can make everything -but he has never learned to distribute it".
Quod erat demonstrandum.
 
 
-16 # lnason@umassd.edu 2014-06-17 11:22
The Commonwealth Fund report is extremely biased. It measures things like whether patient records are digitized while virtually ignoring whether or not patients get recommended screenings and periodic tests -- the US ranks "low" on this measure because our doctors couldn't produce digitized records on demand even though we have the highest rate of preventive screening in the world and virtually all patients say they are always told to get the screenings.

The report is also biased by having an exceeding low sample of hand-picked respondents.

We also rank "low" because many Americans prefer not to have a primary care doctor and rather just go to a specialist who can deal with their medical problems or to shop around for doctors as needed. Other countries rank higher because everyone is assigned a primary care doctor (excepting in those instances where there are not enough doctors) and a patient MUST see that doctor before going to a specialist even though the medical situation may obviously need a specialist.

Our health care does cost too much but that is the result of inadequate competition (thanks to state insurance commissions) and federal meddling in various areas.

Lee Nason
New Bedford, Massachusetets
 
 
+8 # hattie12KY 2014-06-17 11:59
Lee, I don't think you can quarrel with rankings that place us higher in infant and maternal mortality, lower in length of life ( esp for males). Even the Wash Post numbers guy agreed with the #37 ranking when a specific set of outcomes were studied.

I suggest you and other commenters read HR 676 The Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act at Congress.gov
Everybody in; nobody out, and save our economy billions per year.
 
 
-10 # Roland 2014-06-17 12:12
"The U.S. has the highest infant-mortalit y rate among high-income countries. Again, this isn't a good indicator of the quality of the American health-care system. The elevated U.S. rate is a function of both the technological advancement of American hospitals and discrepancies in how different countries define a live birth.
Doctors in the U.S. are much more aggressive than foreign counterparts about trying to save premature babies. Thousands of babies that would have been declared stillborn in other countries and never given a chance at life are saved in the U.S. As a result, the percentage of preterm births in America is exceptionally high—65% higher than in Britain, and about double the rates in Finland and Greece.
Unfortunately, some of the premature babies that American hospitals try to save don't make it. Their deaths inflate the overall infant mortality rate. But most premature babies are saved, largely because America's medical research community is exceptionally innovative. There's a laundry list of modern medical advancements used to treat a premature baby: suction devices to clear the baby's mouth and lungs of amniotic fluid, miniature catheters to deliver vital fluids and medications, and emergency incubators equipped with sophisticated temperature-reg ulation technologies." quote by Sally C. Pipes WSJ 2013
 
 
-7 # Roland 2014-06-17 12:19
Virginia Commonwealth University Family Medicine Professor Steven Woolf, recently told reporters that life expectancy and other noted health outcomes are determined "by much more than health care." He added: "Much of our health disadvantage comes from factors outside of the clinical system and outside of what doctors and hospitals can do." For instance, a comparatively high rate of fatal car accidents and murders in the U.S. diminishes overall life expectancy.

Don’t we also have a high rate of obesity that shortens life expectancy.?
 
 
+6 # reiverpacific 2014-06-17 14:11
Quoting Roland:
Virginia Commonwealth University Family Medicine Professor Steven Woolf, recently told reporters that life expectancy and other noted health outcomes are determined "by much more than health care." He added: "Much of our health disadvantage comes from factors outside of the clinical system and outside of what doctors and hospitals can do." For instance, a comparatively high rate of fatal car accidents and murders in the U.S. diminishes overall life expectancy.

Don’t we also have a high rate of obesity that shortens life expectancy.?

Please, purty please -get some first-hand experience around the world, where doctors get to do the healing (including my own country Scotland, which has a notoriously unhealthy diet) and get back to us.
Until then, stuff your apologist attitude for what is a criminal, highly profitable non-system, with administrative costs of between 30% and 40% of total cost, obscene CEO salaries and benefits and corrupt politicians who assume the bend-over position when lobbied to perpetrate the ills of the status-quo whilst denying others the four-star GOVERNMENT coverage we peasants can't even dream of but which other "Civilized" nations take for granted.
What's the point of hi-tech gizmos if they aren't for everybody?
And why are so many Americans afraid to go to the doctor, Dentist, can't go to and Optician or Mental Health professional -all covered in single payer nations, UNTIL they end up in the ER -or dead?!
 
 
-7 # Roland 2014-06-17 14:37
I know of wealthy people in the Middle East who come here for dental surgery. They could go anywhere.
60 min. or one of those shows, showed people coming down from Canada because the wait times were too long. And one was a life or death situation.
I am not familiar with Scottland. Are the Scottish as obese as we are? Is your murder rate as high? Do you have a figure for car accidents? Life expectancy isn't the best gauge.
 
 
+5 # reiverpacific 2014-06-17 16:19
Quoting Roland:
I know of wealthy people in the Middle East who come here for dental surgery. They could go anywhere.
60 min. or one of those shows, showed people coming down from Canada because the wait times were too long. And one was a life or death situation.
I am not familiar with Scottland. Are the Scottish as obese as we are? Is your murder rate as high? Do you have a figure for car accidents? Life expectancy isn't the best gauge.


Same old right-wing excuses for a failed system.
"Wealthy people" (You know of -who?) can go anywhere they like -many go to high priced specialist quacks in London's Harley Street too.
I'm talking about ESPECIALLY THE POOR, MIDDLE AND EVEN UPPER-MIDDLE; everybody in, nobody out.
Did you read my original post or choose to ignore it? That part about waiting is propaganda put about by the insurance-big pharma industries and their media shills, which includes 60' "Or one of these shows".
Have to seen the more credible Michael Moore's "Sicko" movie on the same subject?
So again: "Here's another one for those ignoramuses who howl about "Waiting times" (I've waited way longer here for a simple procedure or check than any other country; some even take walk-ins): http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/06/06/1305021/-Every-single-thing-is-a-nightmare-in-the-American-health-care-non-system-Look-at-this?detail=email.
BTW, 62% of US bankruptcies are due to medical costs, most WITH insurance, including myself.
That OK with you?
 
 
-6 # Roland 2014-06-17 17:40
Sorry, for your situation ,but people testified as to Canada's wait times. I have a friend in England who confirmed the problems with their wait times.
I saw your comment about wait times being propaganda but I don't believe that it is.
 
 
+7 # Buddha 2014-06-17 12:27
"Thanks to GOP lawmakers’ resistance to Obamacare’s optional Medicaid expansion, which would extend public insurance to additional struggling Americans, about six million of the country’s poorest residents are still left with no access to affordable health care whatsoever."

If the Dems weren't corporatist shills beholden to HMO's, we could have gone with a default Medicare-for-Al l that would have provided said universality...
 
 
+3 # tabonsell 2014-06-17 17:09
Bloomberg rates the American healthcare system as the most expensive, in one category, but second most expensive in another.

The United States spends $8,608 per person while Switzerland spends $9,121, putting America in second place. But the US uses 17.2 percent of its GDP on healthcare while Switzerland spends 11.5%, making America the most expensive in this category. That also shows the Switzerland's per capita income is much higher than is ours.

Bloomberg also rates the United States as 46th best in efficiency while Switzerland is ranked 9th. Hong Kong was rated No.1 while spending $1,409 per person and 3.8% of its GDP. Only 48 nations were listed.

These figures came for an August 2013 survey, showing that they are about as current as can be.
 
 
+2 # reiverpacific 2014-06-17 19:06
Quoting Roland:
Sorry, for your situation ,but people testified as to Canada's wait times. I have a friend in England who confirmed the problems with their wait times.
I saw your comment about wait times being propaganda but I don't believe that it is.


I give up.
The weight of the world is against you and your ilk. If it's not for everybody it's not a system. Health care is a human right -not a fuckin' lottery!
I've gone back to Scotland twice for non-emergency surgical procedures, one without insurance and once with -and it cost me
 
 
+3 # reiverpacific 2014-06-17 20:06
Quoting Roland:
Sorry, for your situation ,but people testified as to Canada's wait times. I have a friend in England who confirmed the problems with their wait times.
I saw your comment about wait times being propaganda but I don't believe that it is.


I give up.
The weight of the world is against you and your ilk. If it's not for everybody it's not a system. Health care is a human right -not a fuckin' lottery!
I've gone back to Scotland twice for non-emergency surgical procedures, one without insurance and once with -and it cost me < half what it would have here: the ambulance ride to the ER last when they finally got me in their clutches was more than the round-trip airfare from the west coast.
I've presented you with plenty of personal experience and backup but all you can come up with is making vague aspersions like "A friend in England", "I know of wealthy people in the Middle east---", "60 min' or one of these shows" and such like blethers.
You defend the indefensible in the face of world opinion and evidence so I have to conclude that I'm rattling and emptily tin can or trying to unblock a drain clogged with concrete using drain-o, as in "We're American so it's the best".
To lighten up a bit, here's a little précis from a well loved Scottish comedian -the Scottish version of George Carlin, on how the "Civilized" world sees the mockery that passes for medical delivery here; http://youtu.be/_qHL0N9iHV4
I hope you survive y'r state of denial.
 
 
+1 # RnR 2014-06-18 09:18
One of the most irritating situations to have arisen from the corporate take over of the medical profession is in regard to the necessary phone calls.

Voice messaging is an affront to good medical care and has increased the time required to rectify a question regarding care from probably an hour or so to, in most cases, at *least* an entire day.

Being forced by the insurance companies to have "conversations" with their fucking mechanical voices is the worst. In the corporate view it is better for 400,000 health care providers nationwide to have to deal with voice messaging systems which take up at least 15 minutes of their time at least 10 times a day, than to pay operators. So, the insurance companies save money but the extra cost is passed on to the patient in the forms of co-pays. How many hours are doctors, pharmacists, nurses and technicians wasting *every damned day* on the phone dealing with voice messaging systems?

Bravo voice messaging...
 

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