United States has the worst health care, highest infant mortality rate among rich countries, report says

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The U.S. Capitol is reflected in an emergency ambulance March 27, 2020, in Washington, DC.

The U.S. Capitol is reflected in an emergency ambulance March 27, 2020, in Washington, DC.
Photo: Alex edelman (Getty Images)

A new Commonwealth Fund report provides a otherwisesurprising assessment of the health system in America. Compared to similarly wealthy countries, the United States ranks last in most decent health care measures, which includes the highest infant and maternal mortality rate.

Since 2004, the Commonwealth Fund, a nonprofit organization focused on health care reform founded in 1917, has been publish periodically its Mirror report, Mirror, a comparison of the American health care system with that of other high-income countries (the last one dates back to 2017). the the last version was published this week and compared the US to 10 other countries, including Norway, UK, Switzerland and France. All countries were assessed on five fundamental aspects of health care, from access to equity to tangible health outcomes, based on recent and publicly available data.

The top three performing countries overall were Norway, the Netherlands and Australia, followed by the United Kingdom, Germany and New Zealand. And in the rear, far from its closest counterpart, Canada, was the United States. In four of these five measures, the United States ranked 11th. The only measure he did much better was in the care process, where he came in second.

The authors defined the process of care as the ability of a country to provide residents with timely preventive care such as cancer screenings, safe care in general, organized coordination between different parts of the system, such as primary care physicians and emergency departments, and good communication between physicians and patients on health. risks like smoking.

Everywhere else, however, the United States was utterly catastrophic in protecting the health and longevity of its residents. It ranked last in infant mortality rate, with 5.7 deaths per 1,000 live births (Norway, ranked first, has a rate of 2 deaths per 1,000 live births); last in terms of maternal mortality, with 17.4 deaths per 100,000 live births (more than twice the rate of its closest counterpart, France), and last in life expectancy after age 60, at 23.1 years (People over 60 in Australia are expected to live more than two years longer than in the United States). It also does the worst in terms of equity, with the gap in various health care outcomes being significantly larger between the rich and the poor in the United States. All of this, it should be noted, was despite the fact that the United States as a whole was actually spending more money on health care costs than any other country.

“We have almost two health systems in America: one for people with means and insurance, and one that does not meet the needs of people who are uninsured or do not have adequate insurance coverage,” senior author Eric Schneider, senior vice president of policy and research at the Commonwealth Fund, told the Washington post.

Notably, the United States remains the only high-income country not to ensure universal health coverage, a key factor for its declining performance, according to the authors. The best performing countries not only ensure health coverage for most residents, but they also keep reimbursable costs relatively low and ensure that services are available to everyone, regardless of location. Some countries, like Norway, have significantly more physicians relative to the population than the United States And these universal healthcare systems also tend to require less paperwork to operate, lowering their administrative costs compared to the United States

He stays organizations and political leaders who want the United States to embrace universal health coverage through the implementation of apay system like those seen in other rich country – a country that may still have private insurance providers, as in Germany. But it’s fair to say it’s not a priority for the current Democratic administration, and certainly not for the GOP. But the authors hope the United States can learn lessons from its peers, such as the need for greater bargaining power in drug price negotiations.

“As the COVID-19 pandemic has amply demonstrated, no nation has the perfect health system. Health care is a work in progress; science continues to advance, creating new opportunities and challenges, ”the authors wrote in their conclusion. “But by learning from what has worked and what has not worked elsewhere in the world, all countries have the opportunity to try new policies and practices that can bring them closer to the ideal of a health care system that ensures optimal health for all of its inhabitants at a price the nation can afford.


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