How the U.S. Health Care System Compares

This was a look in 2014, By comparison it wasn’t good then and it sounds under the new pres, it may even get worse. There is a lot of money being spent. The US spends about twice as much, but it’s not showing in results.

We see a lot of healthcare provision discussions in the UK. I am really surprised and indeed very suspicious that the UK scores so highly in terms of performance which makes me wonder exactly how these rankings have been arrived at.

Over here, the US system is always regarded as the example of where NOT to go. The low rankings in terms of treatment and health statistics are a consequence of the inequalities in the system, since the best healthcare (available to those with good insurance coverage) is clearly at least as good as anywhere in the world. It’s the poor and uninsured who drag down the rankings

The NHS is sits dead centre in terms of UK politics and these sorts of comparisons are quoted constantly. UK performance set against comparable European countries + Canada, Australia, NZ etc., is variable and mostly in the middle rank, so I wonder how this survey has been compiled? The only parameter for which the UK consistently outscores all other countries in in Efficiency (Expenditure per capita).

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I agree with @jjm335 - I find those ratings to be suspect. From my travels, I hear a lot of good about France’s healthcare system. Because of this, I tend to believe more in the World Health Organization’s ratings, though that is my personal view only (no real reason, other than it matches my personal experiences.)

Actually, you also have to take these with a large pinch of salt. I am not surprised by France’s No.1 position. However placing the Netherlands, UK and Switzerland below Greece and Portugal seems equally problematical. The Euro Health Consumer Index ( places Netherlands and Switzerland 1st and 2nd.

The only consistent thread is that despite spending more per capita than anywhere else in the world the US scores poorly in almost all of these exercises


One of the things I suspect most people don’t really know is how many poor and uninsured there actually are in the US. Income inequality is so extreme at this point that the US is comfortably the ‘richest’ country in the world while having completely unacceptable levels of poverty and economic hardship. Something that should be at the top of such lists is a category like such:

Likelihood of average citizen filing bankruptcy as a direct consequence of unaffordable healthcare costs.

US is likely to be top of that list.


There may be grounds to dismiss it. It might be a good idea to look at it first and find reasons why it’s biased and skewed. The full report is on the site.

It’s is done by a US foundation. there are also previous 'mirror mirror ’ reports to compare
Mission Statement
The Commonwealth Fund—among the first private foundations started by a woman philanthropist, Anna M. Harkness—was established in 1918 with the broad charge to enhance the common good.

The mission of The Commonwealth Fund is to promote a high-performing health care system that achieves better access, improved quality, and greater efficiency, particularly for society’s most vulnerable, including low-income people, the uninsured, minority Americans, young children, and elderly adults.

The Fund carries out this mandate by supporting independent research on health care issues and making grants to improve health care practice and policy. An international program in health policy is designed to stimulate innovative policies and practices in the United States and other industrialized countries.

I think that this is actually well recognized on this side of the pond. In fact whenever health matters and the performance of the NHS make in into political consciousness or the media - which is effectively 24/7/52 over here - the US system is always held up as the bogeyman (along the lines of “these proposed changes to the NHS will lead to a US-style healthcare system and you will end up with the bodies of the poor piling up in the streets”).

What runs through the thinking in MOST countries is the idea that equal access to adequate healthcare is a RIGHT. To my mind it makes no more sense to leave healthcare to the vagaries of the free market than it would to do the same for education. Imagine if all education (from kindergarten upwards) was provided only by private institutions and children of poorer or less advantaged parents were able to receive only few years of the most rudimentary teaching.

I agree entirely. I think most people here don’t realize how dire the situation really is, or don’t care. The people that vote, the people that make decisions, the people that have power in the US just don’t seem to care what happens to others. It’s all about individualism. We are the ones that don’t care what happens to the poor, sick, and uninsured. Not that the UK has a great track record on that front, although Scotland may be better equipped to go their own way on such things in a few years time :slight_smile:

And yes, I can’t imagine too many countries looking at the US as a positive example on what to do with healthcare. Of course, in the UK you have to deal with the corporatist interest that is very similar to that in the US, and they will always be for privatizing a system if there is any money to be made, regardless of the cost to actual people.