The grim reality of health care in the United States

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Everyone who comes to America to the so-called “land of freedom” is amazed at the unlimited opportunities this country provides. But when it comes to health care, everyone gets the grim picture.

The United States is the wealthiest country in the world, and yet it doesn't rank at the top in health care. Of the 11 wealthy countries, it ranks at the bottom of the list.

And what's ironic is that the U.S. spends more on health care than any other country in the world, according to the new report from the Commonwealth Fund.

Since 1980, health care in the U.S. has grown exponentially higher than in any other country. The health care spending increased to $3.8 billion in 2019 alone. However, the rising health care costs have not correlated with the overall quality of care. The U.S. has ranked low in several parameters: care, affordability, efficiency, equity, and health care outcomes.

Perhaps the most alarming part is the income inequality when it comes to health care. Health care in the U.S. is so outrageously expensive that people with a median income can barely cover the essential medical costs.

The U.S. health care system lags far behind many other high-income nations. Some countries that rank ahead of the U.S. are Norway, the Netherland, Australia, the United Kingdom, Germany, New Zealand, Sweden, France, Switzerland and Canada. According to David Blumenthal, president of the Commonwealth Fund, the differences between other countries and the U.S. lie in better primary care, social services and equitable health systems.

Here is how health care in the U.S. compares to the 11 industrialized countries.

  • Overall ranking: 11
  • Access to care: 11
  • Care process: 2
  • Administrative efficiency: 11
  • Equity: 11
  • Health outcomes: 11

As you can see, except for the care process, the U.S. was at the bottom in every other category. The U.S. also ranks the highest in infant mortality rate, maternal mortality rate, lowest life expectancy and the highest rate of avoidable mortality.

Lack of investment in the key areas

The major problem with American health care is that not enough money is devoted to public health, preventative services, and primary care. As. Dr. Anand Parekh, chief medical advisor at the Bipartisan Policy Center stated: “If we want to improve population health, we must invest in these three areas.”

Due to the extremely high insurance premiums, patients can’t cover the cost of the medications prescribed to them by their physicians. Often their insurance doesn’t cover their medical procedures and life-saving medications. For many, medical bills can be a leading cause of debt.

Lack of access to universal health care is also a factor. For example, in 2020, 30 million people in the U.S. lacked health insurance. People without health insurance don’t have access to affordable health care.

The takeaway

The U.S. spends more on health care than any other country in the world, and yet, compared to other countries, it lags in quality care. Of the 11 wealthy countries analyzed, it ranked at the bottom of the list. What could help improve the quality of health care and decrease health care costs is access to preventative medicine, investment in primary care and social services.

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I'm a diverse writer covering a range of topics- health, nutrition and fitness as well as world and politics.

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