A Distinction We Don't Want

Though we all know the US spends a lot on healthcare, the first graph in the new report from The Commonwealth Fund on health-system performance in 11 high-income countries is still a shocker. It shows health spending as a percentage of GDP from 1980 to 2014, and the line for the US is so far above the other countries’ that it literally looks like a mistake. This is even more discouraging when you consider the other findings in the report, which have the US ranked at or near the bottom for outcomes, access, equity, and administrative efficiency.  

The only positive spin on these dismal distinctions is that we have a huge opportunity for improvement. There is plenty we could learn from better-performing health systems around the world, especially about providing healthcare access to all. But there is also plenty we can learn from success stories in our own country, where innovative employer sponsors are working together with providers, payers and patients to address underlying issues that result in wasted money and poor outcomes. We need to accelerate these efforts and scale up the best of them to benefit all players. Given the gridlock on healthcare reform in Washington, the best hope for a better report on US health system performance in the years ahead may well lie with the employer community. 

Go to full article: www.commonwealthfund.org




Beth Umland
by Beth Umland

Director of Research, Health, Mercer

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