February 25, 2014

U.S. Healthcare: How We Stack Up

Most everyone I know agrees on something: -- the U.S. healthcare system is a mess..

Sadly, there's nothing close to agreement on how to fix it.

Recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) released some figures -- using a broad range of healthcare indicators -- that show how America compares with 16 other countries around the world. The results aren’t impressive; it's unsettling to imagine our rankings if the WHO had included ALL countries.

Those other 16 represent a pretty good mix geographically, economically, culturally: Afghanistan, Algeria, Australia, Canada, China, Colombia, France, Germany, Ghana, India, Japan, Mexico, Mongolia, Russia, Singapore, United Kingdom, United States.

Here are the categories for which the WHO provided rankings:

GROSS NATIONAL INCOME PER CAPITA (2011)
US ranks #2 ($48,820) after Singapore ($59,380)

TOTAL HEALTH EXPENDITURE PER CAPITA (2010)
US ranks #1 ($8,233)
(Americans spend 17 cents of every dollar on healthcare, two and a half times more than most of the world’s developed nations.)

LIFE EXPECTANCY AND MORTALITY
(at birth, both sexes, 2011)
US is #8, (at 79 years)
Others ahead of US in order: Japan (83), Singapore, France Canada, Australia, Germany, United Kingdom

HEALTH SERVICE AVAILABILITY AND USE
(contraceptive prevalence %, 2011)
US is #4 (at 79%), after China (85%), UK , and Russia

IMMUNIZATION COVERAGE FOR 1 YEAR OLDS
(measles, %, 2011)
US is #12 (at 90%) after Germany (95%), China, Russia, Mongolia (!), Mexico, Canada, Singapore, Algeria, Japan, Australia, and Ghana 

RISK FACTORS
(population using improved drinking water sources, %, 2011)
US is #8 (granted, with 99%) after the United Kingdom (100%), Singapore, Japan, Germany, France, Canada, and Australia

HEALTH SYSTEMS
(hospital beds per 10,000 population, 2005-2012)
US is #9 (with 30), after JP (137), Russia, Germany, Mongolia, France, China, Australia, Canada

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The WHO provided additional information, comparing US healthcare with services from ALL 34 countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD):
  • 2.4 = number of practicing physicians in the US per 1,000 people (OECD average is 3.1)
  • .3 = number of general practitioners in the US per 1,000 people (OECD average is 1.23)    
  • 2.1 = number of specialists in the US per 1,000 people (OECD average is 1.93)      
  • 87.5% of practicing US physicians are specialists (OECD average is 61.3)
  • 85% = higher-than-average cost of hospital services (medical and surgical) in the US compared to OECD countries
  • $18,000 = average cost of hospital stay in the US ($6,200 across OECD countries)
  • 2x = more tests (including MRIs and CTs) in the US in 2010 than in other OECD countries

There's an impressive graphic for all this infomation. It's worth a look.


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