HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Akron Univ. School of Law

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Getting What You Pay For?

A new report demonstrates that Americans pay the most for their health care yet receive the poorest level of care.  MSNBC discusses the report by the Commonwealth Fund (great website with lots of helpful data) and states,

Americans get the poorest health care and yet pay the most compared to five other rich countries, according to a report released on Tuesday.

Germany, Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Canada all provide better care for less money, the Commonwealth Fund report found.

“The U.S. health care system ranks last compared with five other nations on measures of quality, access, efficiency, equity, and outcomes,” the non-profit group, which studies health care issues, said in a statement. . . . .

“The United States is not getting value for the money that is spent on health care,” Commonwealth Fund president Karen Davis said in a telephone interview.

The group has consistently found that the United States, the only one of the six nations that does not provide universal health care, scores more poorly than the others on many measures of health care.

Congress, President George W. Bush, many employers and insurers have all agreed in recent months to overhaul the U.S. health care system — an uncoordinated conglomeration of employer-funded care, private health insurance and government programs.

The current system leaves about 45 million people with no insurance at all, according to U.S. government estimates from 2005, and many studies have shown most of these people do not receive preventive services that not only keep them healthier, but reduce long-term costs.

Davis said the fund’s researchers looked at hard data for the report.

“It is pretty indisputable that we spend twice what other countries spend on average,” she said.

Per-capita health spending in the United States in 2004 was $6,102, twice that of Germany, which spent $3,005. Canada spent $3,165, New Zealand $2,083 and Australia $2,876, while Britain spent $2,546 per person.

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