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New update of international health system comparisons: US continues to lag on most measures

reporting that they have a regular doctor (84% vs. 92%-97% in other countries).

  • On access measures the U.S. ranked last overall, including last on timeliness of care: 61% of U.S. patients said it was somewhat or very difficult to get care on nights or weekends, compared with 25%-59% in other countries.

  • On efficiency, the U.S. ranked last overall, including last on percent of patients who have visited the emergency room for conditions that could have been treated by a regular doctor if one had been available (26% vs. 6%-21% in other countries). The U.S. ranked fifth of six countries on primary care practices having "high clinical information functions," defined as practices having at least 7 of 14 office practice information functions, including electronic records, electronic prescribing, computerized safety alerts, and patient reminders systems and registries (19% compared with 8%-87% in other countries).

Multinational Comparisons of Health Systems Data, 2006, by Jonathan Cylus and Gerard Anderson, Ph.D., of The Johns Hopkins University, compares health spending data in nine Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries: Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States and, where possible, the median of all 30 OECD countries. Key findings include:

  • In 2004 the U.S. spent the most per capita on hospital services, and Canada and Japan spent the least. Adjusted for differences in cost of living, inpatient acute care spending per day in the United States was nearly three times the median OECD country ($2,337) and over five times more than Japan ($419).

  • The U.S. spent twice the OECD median per capita on drugs in 2004$752 compared with $377.

  • Nearly one-third (30.6%) of individuals in the U.S. were obese in 2004, compared with 13 percent of the OECD median.

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Contact: Mary Mahon
mm@cmwf.org
212-606-3853
Commonwealth Fund
15-May-2007


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