Why are we last?
For being the most expensive healthcare system in the world, the US doesn’t rank among the highest in health outcomes when compared to other developed countries. In fact, in a recent 2014 study (The Commonwealth Fund Report) comparing the US with 10 other developed countries, the US came in last.
“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 or near last on dimensions of access, efficiency, and equity.”
Last year a report was prepared by doctors and other researchers led by the National Research Council and the Institute of Medicine. This report studied 17 developed countries including the US.
“Among the most striking of the report’s findings are that, among the countries studied, the U.S. has:
The highest rate of death by violence, by a stunning margin
The highest rate of death by car accident, also dramatically so
The highest chance that a child will die before age 5
The second-highest rate of death by coronary heart disease
The second-highest rate of death by lung disease
The highest teen pregnancy rate
The highest rate of women dying due to complications of pregnancy and childbirth”
Why such poor health outcomes in the US?
There are many differing opinions on this. One opinion is that the US ranks last because we haven’t had any sort of universal health care. The research shows that the US ranks last in healthcare equity. More people in the US report not going to the doctor when sick because of the cost of care. The US healthcare system has been far less accessible to those living at or below the poverty level.
The US is currently ranked #2 for obesity rates falling closely behind Mexico. Over 1/3 of adults in the US are considered obese according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Links in obesity have been found in race and also location in the US as some areas of the country are showing higher prevalence in obesity than others. Poor food choices and overeating are contributing factors to poor health outcomes in the US.
Many changes in the US healthcare system are happening right now. The hope is that we will see improved health outcomes with the changes in coverage and access in the US.