U.S. health care system ranks lowest in international survey

By:  Jessica Firger

The U.S. spends more money on health care compared with other industrialized countries, but Americans still get the least bang for their buck -- and many still don't have access to care -- according to a report just published by the Commonwealth Fund. The report from the private health care research foundation examined data on expenditures, delivery and access to health care services among 11 industrialized countries: Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the U.K. and the U.S.

Overall, the U.K. and Switzerland were rated highest for factors that included quality, access, efficiency and equity of health care. The U.S., Canada and France overall ranked lowest. The U.S. was found to perform worst in areas concerning cost of care, efficiency, equity and overall health of its citizens, even though health care expenditures were highest per capita compared with the other 10 countries in the report.

In 2011, the U.S. spent $8,508 per capita in health care expenditures, compared with $3,405 per capita in the U.K., which was the country with the highest ranked health care system overall.

"Although the U.S. spends more on health care than any other country and has the highest proportion of specialist physicians, survey findings indicate that from the patients' perspective, and based on outcome indicators, the performance of American health care is severely lacking," write the authors in the report. "The nation's substantial investment in health care is not yielding returns in terms of public satisfaction or health outcomes."

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