With the United States being a first-world country and having some of the best systems in the world, one would expect that healthcare might be both affordable and ranked among the world’s best.
However, is the US healthcare care system better than the rest of the world?
US market analysts place the country at the bottom of the rankings in all but one category: “care procedure.”
Even though the United States comes in last place in terms of overall health care spending, it also spends most of its GDP on the issue.
To put things in perspective, the United States spent 16.8% of its GDP in 2019 on health care, while Switzerland came in second with 11.3 percent.
Table of Contents
- What weaknesses in the US healthcare system have been exposed by the Covid-19 pandemic?
- Where does the US healthcare system rank?
- How much does the US spend on healthcare?
- Which countries have the best-performing healthcare systems?
- Is the United States’ healthcare spending more excessive than the rest of the world?
- Why is there increased healthcare spending in the United States?
- What are other contributing factors to high healthcare spending in the United States?
- What were the performance measures used to determine the US healthcare system’s rank?
- How do the top-performing countries stand apart from the US healthcare system?
- What makes the Netherlands’ healthcare outrank the United States?
- How long has the United States been ranking poorly in healthcare studies?
- Was the United States healthcare rated before the pandemic?
- Is the United States an international medical tourism destination?
- How affordable is healthcare in the United States?
- Is the inequity in US healthcare a major reason for its poor outcomes?
Some countries have done better than others when it comes to dealing with the pandemic. Many countries, including the United States, have been unable to contain the virus despite the widespread availability of vaccines.
The strain on the health care system from the pandemic is clear. According to a recent study, the United States is the least health-care-adequate of ten high-income countries.
In terms of health care affordability, efficiency, equity, and outcomes, the United States lags considerably behind other high-income countries.
That’s according to research from The Commonwealth Fund. The Commonwealth Fund is a private US foundation dedicated to improving the quality and availability of health care for all Americans, but especially for the most vulnerable.
The Commonwealth Fund has performed seven investigations since 2004, and the United States has always come in the bottom place.
“The pre-pandemic strengths and limitations of each country’s previous structures for health care and public health have surely been impacting its experience throughout the crisis,” according to a report published by the World Health Organization.
The report, therefore, is timely.
Healthcare results and administrative efficiency are among the five criteria that the report’s writers evaluated while composing their findings.
Even though the United States comes in last place in terms of overall healthcare, it also spends most of its GDP on the issue.
To put things in perspective, the United States spent 16.8% of its GDP in 2019 on healthcare, while Switzerland came in second with 11.3 percent.
The United States spends more than any other country on healthcare, according to Statista.
In 2020, annual health costs were expected to reach over USD 4 trillion, with each inhabitant paying an average of USD 10,202 for their medical treatment.
Because the coronavirus outbreak is driving up healthcare costs, federal and state governments are already strained thin.
Many Americans may have lost their employer-based private health insurance policies due to job losses or illness.
There has been an enormous surge in Medicaid enrollment since the epidemic began, as a result of lower earnings.
According to the survey, Australia, the Netherlands, and Norway are the best-performing countries.
“Achieving better health outcomes will require policy changes both within and outside of health care,” the authors of the Commonwealth Fund Report noted in a statement.
Changes to the health care system include providing universal coverage and eliminating cost barriers, minimizing administrative barriers, and investing in social programs.
There is no national health insurance in the United States, and the report claims that “out-of-pocket health care costs continue to tarnish U.S. health care performance.”
If you compare US healthcare spending to the healthcare spending in wealthier nations, such as those with the greatest economy and a GDP and GDP per capita above the OECD median, you’ll have a clear picture of what’s going on.
In 2019, the United States spent an average of $11,100 per person on healthcare, which is the highest healthcare spending per capita in the OECD.
Switzerland, on the other hand, ranked second in terms of healthcare spending per capita at $7,700.
For wealthy OECD countries, including but not limited to the United States, the average per-person income was barely $5,500.
According to these comparisons, healthcare costs in the United States are excessive.
Consumption (the total number of services used) and cost determine how much money is spent on healthcare.
The cost of healthcare can rise if either of these two variables rises.
Price differences between the United States and other developed economies, according to many observers, are a secondary factor.
In the United States, prices tend to be greater no matter how many people use them.
The Peterson-KFF Health System Tracker shows that the United States has shorter admission duration in its hospitals, fewer angioplasty operations, and more joint replacements than similar countries but the costs for each are higher than anywhere else.
Healthcare costs in the United States are greater than in other countries for a variety of reasons.
It includes everything from the lack of competition brought on by hospital mergers to the inefficiencies resulting from the healthcare system’s complexity as a whole.
Administrative expenditures in the United States are roughly $940 per person. Compared to other wealthy countries, we spend four times as much on health care as the rest of the developed world.
Based on surveys and administrative data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and the World Health Organization, 71 performance measures were used in the research.
Access to care, the care process, administrative efficiency, equity, and healthcare outcomes were all considered in the analysis.
According to primary author Eric Schneider, no country can claim to be the best at everything, and he believes that every country may benefit from the experiences of others.
The top three countries for healthcare overall were Norway, the Netherlands, and Australia.
Compared to the United States, other high-performing countries provide universal health coverage, remove financial obstacles to access, invest in primary care systems to decrease inequities, reduce administrative costs, and provide social services for children and adults of working age.
As Eric Schneider, the study’s principal author puts it, “the latter is particularly crucial for alleviating the constraints on health systems imposed by aging populations.”
For him, the burden of chronic disease is greater in the United States because of a lack of basic services among children and adolescents.
Because of the well-organized system of primary care doctors and nurses in the Netherlands, Schneider added, minor problems are more likely to be addressed before they become big ones.
Researchers concluded that the United States came in last overall, scoring “far below” the average of the other countries and “far behind” Switzerland and Canada, the two countries that came in ahead of it in the rankings.
Access to care, administrative efficiency, equity, and healthcare results ranked the United States at the bottom of the pack.
Higher-ranking nations are more homogenous and less inhabited than the United States, and they profit from a greater shared understanding around “the position that health holds in the social compact,” according to the director of the Center for Strategic and International Studies Global Health Policy Center, J. Stephen Morrison.
It has continuously rated bottom in the Commonwealth Fund’s comparative reports since 2004, particularly in the linked categories of health access and outcomes, which Schneider described.
Nonetheless, the United States ranked No. 2 in the newest iteration of the Care Process, which measures factors like preventive care and patient participation.
Many American women are screened for breast cancer and receive flu vaccines, while a larger number of individuals visit their doctors concerning nutrition, smoking, and alcohol addiction than in other countries.
These numbers don’t reflect the full scope of what the coronavirus has done to health systems since they were collected.
Nevertheless, it gives information on the current situation of high-income countries’ healthcare systems.
“One could assume that we would be in a position to suffer in battling the epidemic, based on the disparities and the considerably weaker primary care,” Schneider said of the United States.
After the UK, the United States had the second-highest death toll from coronaviruses among the countries studied.
High-quality healthcare is widely available in the United States for those who can pay for it. The United States was a prominent player in the creation of coronavirus vaccines because of its resources and competencies in therapy research and innovation.
All Americans can get a free coronavirus vaccine, which is widely available. However, the healthcare system as a whole is misunderstood by the majority of Americans.
More than 35 million Americans lacked health insurance in the second half of the year, just before the coronavirus made its way to the United States.
Schneider further asserted that a large number of people with health insurance do not have enough coverage.
America has the least affordable healthcare offerings. It does not provide universal health care, unlike other nations assessed.
Limitations on insurance coverage make it harder for doctors in the United States to obtain medication or therapy for patients, according to a report.
For those without resources or insurance, the US has two healthcare systems: one that meets the needs of those who can afford it, and another that falls short, according to Schneider.
Researchers utilized economic disparities as a proxy for health care fairness. Researchers found that, aside from indicators related to preventive services and the safety of care, systems in Australia, Germany, and Switzerland are among the most equitable.
In contrast, the United States “displayed the biggest discrepancies between income levels” across all metrics.
Schneider claims that health outcomes for marginalized or low-income populations are harmed as a result of these imbalances.
With the greatest child mortality and worst life expectancy at the age of 60, the United States scored worst in healthcare outcomes among examined countries.
More than twice as many people in the United States die from preventable causes than in Switzerland, the world’s best-performing country.
Covid-19, a condition caused by the coronavirus, has been linked to health inequities in the United States, which has made these populations more susceptible to the disease.
According to the survey, Americans are sicker than the inhabitants of other high-income countries.
During the coronavirus vaccination rollout, Schneider said, countries with universal and free primary care coverage had an advantage because they could better tap into primary care networks.