Survey Finds U.S. Health Spending Tops Other Nations’
Though the U.S. spends twice as much on health care per capita as those in other industrialized nations, adults in the U.S. experience more problems with access to care and more medical errors, according to a survey published on Thursday on the Web site of the journal Health Affairs, Reuters reports.
The study, conducted by the Commonwealth Fund, includes responses from 12,000 adults in seven industrialized nations -- Australia, Britain, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand and the U.S. -- all of which except for the U.S. have a universal health care system.
The article notes that the U.S. spent $6,697 per capita, or about 16% gross domestic product, on health care in 2005. Other nations in 2005 spent less than half that amount per person on health care. The survey found that respondents in Canada and the U.S. often visit emergency departments for routine care and that those in the U.S. "were most likely to have gone without care because of cost and to have high out-of-pocket costs."
In addition, the survey found that 37% of all respondents in the U.S. and 42% of those with chronic diseases "had skipped medications, not seen a doctor when sick, or forgone recommended care in the past year because of costs -- rates well above all other countries." In contrast, respondents in Britain, Canada and the Netherlands "rarely report having to forgo needed medical care because of costs," according to the survey.
Respondents in New Zealand and Britain had the least confidence in the quality of care that they received, and those in Germany and the U.S. had the most access to elective surgeries, the survey found.
Commonwealth Fund President Karen Davis said, "The survey shows that in the U.S., we pay the price for having a fragmented health care system," adding, "The thing that struck me in this survey is the trouble that Americans have in getting to see their own doctors" (Fox, Reuters, 11/1).
The survey indicates that "Americans are increasingly frustrated about the subpar performance of this country's fragmented health care system, and with good reason," a New York Times editorial states. According to the editorial, the survey "underscores just how badly sick Americans fare compared with patients in other nations" and the "need to ensure that all Americans have quick access to a primary care doctor and the need for universal health coverage -- so that all patients can afford the care they need." The editorial concludes, "That's what all of the presidential candidates should be talking about" (New York Times, 11/1).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.