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ADVANCE Perspective: Physical Therapy & Rehab Medicine

The Biggest Loser: America

Published June 25, 2010 10:23 AM by Cheryl McEvoy

The U.S. may holding strong in the World Cup, but it's been trounced in the global health care arena. A report released two days ago by the Commonwealth Fund ranked the U.S. last in health care quality and efficiency when compared to six other developed countries.

Australia, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, Britain and New Zealand all spend less than half what America does in annual health care costs. According to the report, U.S. health spending in 2007 was $7,290 per person--a significant increase from just two years earlier, when spending was estimated at $6,697 per person.

The countries were scored based on five criteria: quality, efficiency, access to care, equity and the ability to lead a long, healthy life. The Netherlands was No. 1 overall, but Britain snagged the top spot for quality. Between poor insurance coverage, primary care shortages and rising health risks like obesity, the U.S. bottomed out on overall scores.  

The report is evidence of the ills in America's current health system, but it could be a turning point. Commonwealth Fund President Karen Davis hopes the new health care law will bring improvements for the next survey. Equity, for example, could get a boost as more Americans gain access to insurance coverage.

Are you surprised by the findings? Have you experienced health care services in other countries, and did they put the U.S. to shame?


Fascinating report! I've been posting here for the past year that I am amazed at the health care here in the UK, the quality, the availability, and the fact that I don't have to pay any insurance premiums. (Yes, my tax rate is higher than the average American, but once you factor in premiums and co-payments, I actually come out ahead). Yes, one has to wait for an elective hip replacement or therapy sometimes. That isn't going to kill anyone and nobody seems to be the worse off for it. The US could learn some things from Canada and the UK.


Dean Metz June 26, 2010 8:40 AM

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