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US Health Care System Finishes Last

June 23, 2010

From the Commonwealth Fund report (via Ezra Klein):

That’s right: out of the seven countries studied, the US ranks seventh overall, despite spending dramatically more than any other country on health care (as indicated on the bottom line). So much for the evils of socialized medicine.

There is, apparently, some truth to the right-wing charge that Canadians experience longer wait times — under “Timeliness of Care,” Canada ranks 7th. According to the report’s Executive Summary, however, the trade-off between cost (in which Canada outperforms the US) and wait times (in which the US outperforms Canada, but places a meager 5th overall) is by no means inevitable:

Americans with health problems were the most likely to say they had access issues related to cost, but if insured, patients in the U.S. have rapid access to specialized health care services. In other countries, like the U.K. and Canada, patients have little to no financial burden, but experience wait times for such specialized services. There is a frequent misperception that such tradeoffs are inevitable; but patients in the Netherlands and Germany have quick access to specialty services and face little out-of-pocket costs.

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