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U.S. is No. 1 in a key area of healthcare. Guess which one ...

June 23, 2010 | 10:19 am

Operation Australia, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Britain — all are outperforming the United States when it comes to most aspects of healthcare. Again. But we're still tops in one area: spending.

Take that, Netherlands.

The assessment is from a new Commonwealth Fund report, released Wednesday, ranking healthcare systems on quality, access, efficiency, equity and healthy lives.

After pointing out that the other countries have universal health coverage (perhaps you'd heard?) and that the access picture should change as the health overhaul is implemented, the summary of the report states:

"But even when access and equity measures are not considered, the U.S. ranks behind most of the other countries on most measures. ... It is apparent that the U.S. is lagging in adoption of national policies that promote primary care, quality improvement, and information technology."

The report notes that various legislative remedies (read: funds) are now being administered to mitigate these symptoms as well.

But money doesn't necessarily buy quality, as the assessment emphasizes, and it would appear we have a long way to go in improving key elements of our healthcare system.

Here's today's L.A. Times article on healthcare: Obama proposes interim health protections ... "The regulations, all outlined in the healthcare overhaul bill, include barring insurance plans from denying coverage to children with preexisting conditions. Republicans call the rules a sales job."

— Tami Dennis

Photo: A patient undergoes robotic surgery in Florida. Credit: Roberto Gonzalez / Orlando Sentinel


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Comments (44)

According to Republicans, America has the Best Health Care System in The World!!!

Another example of the fantasy land they live in. Never let facts get in the way of what you believe.

Hmmm... I wonder why so many people still come to the USA for their medical treatment then?

I agree with you "thebob.bob" According to Republicans, Americans have the best Health Care System because as they say we have choice & freedom. They believe Government should not take control of Health Care because they fear socialism. That fear stems from lack of knowledge. What I can't stand is when Republicans and some conservative Democrats claim we have the best system for the sake of politics. What they don't understand is the choice we have ultimately cost us a fortune and put us under the Insurance companies' control. Between Government and private companies, I trust my health with our Government more so the other way around.

"Hmmm... I wonder why so many people still come to the USA for their medical treatment then?"

Because in certain highly-specialised, highly-trained areas the standard of healthcare in the US is very high.

The problem is that 99.9% of people do not need these highly-specialised procedures, they just need your everyday, standard healthcare that other countries are (much) better at providing.

Oh, yeah? Who says? Faux News says that we have the best health care system in the world - Drill baby, drill!

Another inaccurate assessment of our system. No one ever corrects for the demographics, hence disease risk of our population. You know Rwanda has universal health care but the life expectancy is in the mid 40's. Look at death rates from colon cancer, breast cancer, and heart attack and you will see a very different picture when compared to the rest of the world.
Again why do people come to our country for health care when every other country is "so much better"?

Instead of Republicans comparing our health care system to Canada, they should mention Japan and Taiwan. Both have state of the art treatments under a single payer system. The checkup rates are far faster than Canada...

Sorry, Patrick PA-C. Japan's life expectancy is higher than the USA and they have a single payer health care system. Taiwan is close to our life expectancy, but they don't spend much for health care. Comparing us to Russia is not fair if you take a look at the foods available. Russia's standard of living is not quite as high as the US, Japan, Taiwan, etc. Besides you lied to try to prove your point... last I checked life expectancy is in the 60s. Low compared to USA, Canada, Japan, S. Korea, China, etc, but please keep yourself updated.

Actually very few people come to the US for medical treatment. Either they are immigrants already living in the US or those who do come are filthy rich in their own respective countries, where they do not have access to such "advanced" healthcare technologies despite the money. Lot of people from the US (and other western countries) go to other countries (Brazil, South Africa, Thailand, India) for medical treatment. Ever heard of medical tourism? (My mom is a surgeon; I do have some credibility in making this point). Quality, availability and access of medical technologies is one point and having access to medical treatment is another point (this is what america lacks behind and what the author is trying to say).

I have to agree with Fantasy_Pad and thebob.bob, I would trust the government more with healthcare (like military, highways etc) than private companies and enough with the Republicans. After all, we live in a democracy: for the people, by the people, to the people; actually this does sounds a bit socialistic but this is what America was founded not for the corporates, by the corporates and to the corporates and this is vaguely how America is functioning!!

BTW: I am not a socialistic, no where close to it!!

Patrick PA-C, I can't believe you can even compare the USA to the Republic of Rwanda! They have a GDP per Capita of $1148. To be fair you have to compare the SA to other developed nations in Europe, Canada, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, etc. The fact is we lose to other developed nations.

It is always amazing to me to see articles like this. Bad mouthing our healthcare system, with NO real documentation, just opinion. Yes the US spends the most. And maybe we don’t get dollar for dollar on those costs over what other countries pay, BUT we most certainly get more. I spend about 50% of my year traveling overseas and do use foreign medical services from time to time. I assure you (just as anyone with direct experience with other systems) that they do NOT offer the access and diagnostics as wide spread as in the US. And forget it if you want something in a hurry at a reasonable cost!

Talk about a lie. Look at the rating criteria - equity and access are two of the top 5 criteria. USA ranks #1 in virtually every category for TREATMENT OPTIONS and CURE RATES. We are ranked lower because we don't have universal coverage which the World Health Organization uses as the highest ranker.

GET it? The numbers are bogus. FIXED. When is the last time you knew anyone who went to Netherlands, Canada or England for medical treatment?

Wake up Americans. Get the real facts.

We have many relatives and friends in Canada, Netherlands, France & Sweden. They come to America for serious, timely, quality care whenever possible (tho they are just middle class). For serious, urgent conditions, requiring state of the art analyses, equipment, treatments and medications, especially involving older people, they come to the U.S. and pay. Kwame Holman's recent PBS News Hour piece on care in the Netherlands was laughably, pathetically, incorrect. Unfortunately our system & its statistics is being overwhelmed by patients with third world behavior and increasingly irresponsible new generations. And now good doctors here are bailing out of the increasingly bureacratic, can't get paid system.

Hey, Citizen4Honor-

Wasn't there a report of Sara Palin going into Canada for treament? People in northern states go to Canada to get health care. I have read plenty of people going to Mexico, India, France..... etc. I myself have received medical treatment abroad while visiting Italy. They treated me and gave me a prescription. Total cost: $15 Euro (when Euro was still par with Dollar). Oh... and their "inferior" medical system cured my problem within 24 hours.

Health care does not fit the mold of traditional supply and demand as the demand for it is fear-based (fear for one's health). Therefore, the demand is unnaturally high when compared to other things like iPods or restaurants or cars or anything else that is material.

Survival is a very different ballgame then material possession. Everyone will need health care at some point. Why should only the people who can afford it be able to use it. Not only that, but by excluding healthy people who otherwise can't pay into the insurance pool, you add an extra strain on those who can afford it, but barely. Factor in a recession and unemployment means people lose health insurance further shrinking the pool driving costs up, adding strain on those who didn't lose their jobs but could barely afford it to begin with. Before you know it, they have to drop out and then it spirals in that same fashion.

Let's make health insurance one large pool that is paid for by a 3.5% tax on everyone. Everyone would pay the same proportion of their salary toward the betterment of the republic. A healthy workforce is a lower-stress productive workforce.

Well this is no surprise. The US policy is to promote health care through subsidizing health care workers. Nurses make a starting salary of more than $65k, which is more than average engineers. While the nursing union in Minnesota, where average nurses make close to $80k per year are striking the hospitals since they believe that the proportion of nurses to patients is too low. In addition, the average nurses received a salary increase of more than 2% this year, even when the economy is in a downturn and people are losing jobs. The high unemployment rate can be partly blamed on the nation's high-cost low quality health care system. The average American can no longer afford health insurance. One news report cited a women shooting herself in the shoulder in order to be admitted and treated at a hospital. The system is run by self-serving companies who have no interest in providing health care to the public.

The question that must be posed is: Why do we have a government controlled health care system if it fails in its duty?

IMO the health care system should be opened up to more competition. Nurses should receive a starting salary of $35-45k DOE. Hospitals are understaffed because their staff is overpaid. Work permits should be granted to foreign workers so they may practice medicine in the United States and the nursing unions should be broken up. Many people are in need of job, so I say fire the nurses and rehire at a more reasonable rate. There are many nurses who graduated, but cannot find a job because those who do have nursing jobs in the hospital are overpaid.

Don Peters, where exactly do you travel to? Other parts of the United States? Africa? Some developing nations? Please inform us. My mother lives in the USA and dearly enjoy her freedom, but she can't stand our medical system. The reason is it costs a fortune to get a simple annual checkup and the doctors don't seem to do a very good job. In fact they treat patients like garbage. When she went to Taiwan she got a checkup within 12 hours after sign up and the doctors were able to find the causes of her problem when doctors in the US were clueless. Plus in Taiwan they email you the full checkup results within a 2 day period. Now that is what health care should be here in America!!! Since she is married to a Taiwanese citizen (dad) she gets a huge discount.


Are you trying to tell me HMOs aren't rife with bureaucracy? And they are soooooo efficient at paying doctors

sadly, no cure for dumbericans.

Actually Linda R. There are very few people who come to America for their health care and more and more Americans who are going abroad to get their surgeries and other treatments because they can get better care for significantly less cost. Do your research. Problem with you Republicans is that you don't bother with little details such as actual facts.

Patrick Pac-C I don't know where you are getting your "facts" from. I did my thesis comparing the American so called Health Care "system" to those of Canada, France, Germany, England, etc. Without exception, our mortality rates for infants is singnificantly higher, Americans have lower life expectancies, and the mortality rates for heart disease, strokes, diabetes, etc., etc., etc. are higher in all cases in the U.S. compared to other countries. Oh and as for the inevitable argument that we don't have long waits for surgeries. That is a long-perpetuated lie and myth, and by the way, countries like Canada have much higher rates of transplants than the U.S. does.

Don Peters and Citizen for honor, you are so full of it its not even funny. You have absolutely no facts at all. You are just flag waving and refuse to accept the fact that we are not number 1. We are not even number 3 in terms of the access to care, cost, quality of care to any DEVELOPED country in the world (try maybe around #20). We have now finally passed some semblance of more universal health care, but not completely, plus it will still be a few years before it goes into effect. Every civilized country in this world has universal care. We are the only exception, which is why we have lower life expectancies, higher mortality rates, etc.

I live part-time in Thailand and you can just walk in at a hospital, wait for a short while for a doctor in any specialty, get care as good as America and pay way less. The doctor charge is about $10-20, extra for medications, tests etc. On the average I pay about the amount of my co-pay here in the states but there is no crazy charge that is reduced and paid by the insurance. It's not perfect but it is way way better than here. Still for major surgery I would probably just do it on my insurance, in America, with someone of great reputation - even though I know I would probably fare just as well in Thailand.

Zack your remarks and suggestion make way too much sense for our Republican naysayers. Much beter to keep health care for the rich and have the poor and uninsured invade our E.R's and bring up the cost while driving down the quality and access to care.



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