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U.S. Spends Far More for Health Care, but Quality Varies

(The Commonwealth Fund) The United States spends more on health care than 12 other industrialized countries yet does not provide "notably superior" care, according to a new study from The Commonwealth Fund. The U.S. spent nearly $8,000 per person in 2009 on health care services, while other countries in the study spent between one-third (Japan and New Zealand) and two-thirds (Norway and Switzerland) as much. While the U.S. performs well on breast and colorectal cancer survival rates, it has among the highest rates of potentially preventable deaths from asthma and amputations due to diabetes, and rates that are no better than average for in-hospital deaths from heart attack and stroke.
Higher prices and greater use of technology appear to be the main factors driving the high rates of U.S. spending, rather than greater use of physician and hospital services, finds study author David Squires, senior research associate at The Commonwealth Fund. His report, Explaining High Health Care Spending in the United States: An International Comparison of Supply, Utilization, Prices, and Quality, presents analysis of prices and health care spending in 13 industrialized countries.
U.S. health care spending amounted to more than 17 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2009, compared with 12 percent or less in other study countries. Japan’s spending, which was the lowest, amounted to less than 9 percent of GDP.
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