According to a new report by The Commonwealth Fund, the U.S. spends more on health care than most other high-income countries, yet they suffer from having the highest rate of people with multiple chronic diseases and lowest life expectancy at birth.
Next to other countries, people in the U.S. see doctors less often due to an array of factors, including a shortage of practicing physicians, lack of health coverage and high out-of-pocket costs.
Munira Gunja, senior researcher for The Commonwealth Fund’s International Program in Health Policy and Practice Innovation, said, “To catch up with other high-income countries, the administration and Congress would have to expand access to health care, act aggressively to control costs, and invest in health equity and social services we know can lead to a healthier population”.
The team analysed health statistics from international sources, including the OECD, and compared the data against Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
The data revealed that in 2021, the U.S. spent approximately twice as much on health care as the average OECD country. Whilst health care spending has been on the rise since the 1980s, driven mostly by investments intechnologies, increasing costs and a higher demand for services, the U.S. still has the highest rate of people with multiple chronic health conditions.
Whilst the U.S. appears successful in their cancer prevention schemes, having the highest number of breast cancer screenings among women ages 50-69, they need better prevention and management of chronic conditions. They must develop the capacity to offer comprehensive, continuous and well-coordinated care. This comes with having an adequate supply of health care providers so that Americans can have easy access to effective primary care.
Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, stated, “we don’t do as much primary care prevention as the other nations” and “under-invest compared to other industrialized nations in societal things. They spend their money on providing upfront support for their citizens. We spend our money on sick care”.
Overall, international comparisons offer the opportunity for the U.S. to see how other health care systems deliver affordable, high quality health care to all their citizens, whilst getting the best value for their health care dollar.
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