Report: U.S. overpays on lower quality care

The U.S. ranked last overall in an analysis of the healthcare systems in 11 high income countries.

The U.S. healthcare system doesn’t measure up to those found in other high-income countries across multiple different metrics.

According to a new analysis from The Commonwealth Fund, despite spending far more of its gross domestic product (GDP) on healthcare the U.S. ranked last overall and in access to care, administrative efficiency, equity, and healthcare outcomes compared to 11 other high-income countries. The U.S. also ranked second on measures of care process.

The top overall performing countries in the analysis were Norway, the Netherlands, and Australia. The U.K., Germany, and New Zealand all ranked very similar to one another in the middle of the pack. The U.S.’ ranking was well below its closest neighbors in the rankings Canada and Switzerland, according to the report.

The U.S.’ poor performance is particularly striking when seen through the lens of spending. America expends about 17 percent of GDP on healthcare system spending compared to the top-ranking countries which spend around 9 or 10 percent of their GDPs, the report says.

The features that distinguish countries whose health systems ranked higher than the U.S.’ were that they provided universal health coverage and removed cost barriers to care as well as investing in primary care systems which ensures the high-value services are equitably available in all communities. These countries also reduce administrative burdens which divert time, efforts, and spending away from health improvement efforts and invest in social services, particularly for children and working-age adults, according to the release.

As part of the analysis, researchers looked at 71 performance across five area: access to care, care process, administrative efficiency, equity, and healthcare access. The data was drawn from Commonwealth Fund surveys conducted in each country as well as administrative data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the World Health Organization.