Sunday, August 23, 2009
America Has the Best Health Care in the World?
Let's get honest, OK? American does not have the best health care in the world. Europeans and Canadians are not flocking to our borders to get to our health care. It is time we realize that we can learn from our neighbors and we don't have to claim we are the "best" at everything. It makes us look really stupid in the eyes of the world.
Here are some facts. We do spend the most money on health care in the world. We do spend the highest percentage of Gross National Product (GDP) on health care and we do spend more dollars per capita than any other country on Earth.
The claim that the United States has the best health care in the world has been proven false by every broad metric used. The World Health Organization and the nonpartisan Commonwealth Fund rankings rate the U.S. last of the Western industrialized countries. The WHO ranks us 37th of all measured countries.
The Commonwealth Fund says, "Among the six nations studied—Australia, Canada, Germany, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States—the U.S. ranks last, as it did in the 2006 and 2004. Most troubling, the U.S. fails to achieve better health outcomes than the other countries, and as shown in the earlier editions, the U.S. is last on dimensions of access, patient safety, efficiency, and equity. The 2007 edition includes data from the six countries and incorporates patients' and physicians' survey results on care experiences and ratings on various dimensions of care."
The U.S. also lags in information technology. (We have been awaiting a robust electronic medical record for 10 years) and in coordination of care and in measured quality outcomes.
One of the ways we improve in health care is when we face the brutal truth. How can you make improvements if you don't know where you are starting from? If you truly believe you are the best in the world...there would be no need for health care reform.
Perhaps that is why these myths and lies are being propagated.
Posted by Toni Brayer, MD at 10:22 AM