Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, 2014 Update: How the U.S. Health Care System Compares Internationally

June 18, 2014

Tom Emerick


Thus reads the headline in a report recently published by the Commonwealth Fund.  The short answer is we compare poorly.

Says the report, “The United States health care system is the most expensive in the world, but this report and prior editions consistently show the U.S. underperforms relative to other countries on most dimensions of performance, among the 11 nations studied in this report…” which are Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and the US.
The US ranked 5th out of 11 in quality, not bad. But, the US ranked dead last in efficiency of our health system and affordability, 11th out of 11 in both.
Our “safe care” score was 7th out of 11. Hmm…not so good for a country whose providers charge about double the comparison group.
This is a huge problem for US employers, yet most are largely ignoring it. Instead of dealing with this, most still believe there is a Fountain of Youth to be had through worksite wellness.  (The benefit managers who really know workplace wellness is a failed solution are afraid to admit it.)
Instead of wellness, employers need to tackle the problem of overpriced care and extreme inefficiency of providers.
It’s high time for wakeup call. We have far larger problems with the supply side of healthcare spending equation than the demand side.
Tom Emerick is a health care analyst and a former VP, Human Resources for Walmart.

Return to News Main Page