[ Back to EurekAlert! ] Public release date: 15-May-2007
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Contact: Mary Mahon
mm@cmwf.org
212-606-3853
Commonwealth Fund

New update of international health system comparisons: US continues to lag on most measures

US spends most on health care, least on health information technology

New York City, May 15, 2007—The U.S. health care system ranks last compared with five other nations on measures of quality, access, efficiency, equity, and outcomes, in the third edition of a Commonwealth Fund report analyzing international health policy surveys. While the U.S. did well on some preventive care measures, the nation ranked at the bottom on measures of safe care and coordinated care.

Another new Commonwealth Fund report comparing health spending data in industrialized nations published today reveals that despite spending more than twice as much per capita on health care as other nations ($6,102 vs. $2,571 for the median of Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development [OECD] countries in 2004) the U.S. spends far less on health information technology—just 43 cents per capita, compared with about $192 per capita in the U.K.

"The United States stands out as the only nation in these studies that does not ensure access to health care through universal coverage and promotion of a 'medical home' for patients," said Commonwealth Fund President Karen Davis. "Our failure to ensure health insurance for all and encourage stable, long-term ties between physicians and patients shows in our poor performance on measures of quality, access, efficiency, equity, and health outcomes. In light of the significant resources we devote to health care in this country, we should expect the best, highest performing health system."

In Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: An International Update on the Comparative Performance of American Health Care, by Karen Davis, Ph. D., and colleagues, compare surveys on physicians' and patients' experiences and views of their health systems conducted in Australia, Canada, Germany, New Zealand, the U.K., and the U.S. between 2004 and 2006. Key findings include:

Multinational Comparisons of Health Systems Data, 2006, by Jonathan Cylus and Gerard Anderson, Ph.D., of The Johns Hopkins University, compares health spending data in nine Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries: Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States and, where possible, the median of all 30 OECD countries. Key findings include:

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The Commonwealth Fund is a private foundation working toward a high performance health system.



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