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Report: U.S. healthcare expensive, inefficient

Physician Practice Advisor, May 23, 2007

Americans pay more but receive less when it comes to healthcare compared to their counterparts in Germany, Britain, Australia, and Canada, according to a report from the Commonwealth Fund. The report ranks United States healthcare last, based on comparisons of quality, access, efficiency, equity, and outcome.

Germany received the highest ranking, followed by Britain, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada. Per capita healthcare spending in the United States in 2004 was $6,102, while Germany spent $3,005; Britain spent $2,546; Australia spent $2,876; New Zealand spent $2,083, and Canada spent $3,165.

The most notable way the United States differs from other countries is the absence of universal health insurance coverage and slow adoption of information technology. However, one of the areas where the U.S. healthcare system outpaces those in other countries is preventative medicine, the report says. Another is the short wait time for elective, non-emergency surgery, such as cataract procedures or hip replacements. However, 61% of U.S. patients say it is somewhat or very difficult to get emergency room care on weekends or nights, while 25% to 59% of those in the other countries say the same.

Click here to access the Commonwealth Fund study.