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Which countries have the best health care systems?

Original Articles

You might think of the United States as offering the best healthcare in the world, but the Commonwealth Fund, a well-regarded New York City “think tank”, whose mission includes “Affordable, quality health care. For everyone”, rates the US dead last amongst 11 developed, Western nations.

The report confirms that the United States has the most expensive healthcare in the world, but like in many areas, the most expensive is not always the best. The report says the US system lacks good efficiency, access to care, and even the quality or “health outcomes” are lower than countries where health care is much less expensive. The report concludes that compared to how much money Americans spend, they are not getting a good value.

The report covered Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the UK, France, Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Norway. The top performing country was the UK, which spends on average USD 3,405 per person annually on health care, compared with the US per person spending of USD 8,508.

The highest ranked countries just behind the UK were Switzerland and Sweden, and near the bottom with the US was Canada, which ranked just slightly better than the U.S. The report indicates the problems with health care in the U.S. were mostly related to the absence of universal health care coverage guaranteed by the federal government. In the U.S., only those age 65 or over are covered on a federally guaranteed program, called Medicare.

While 85% of U.S. residents are covered by health insurance, the millions without insurance often put off needed care because it is so costly, and end up being treated in emergency rooms, which is horribly inefficient. Because medications are so expensive, many people don’t fill prescriptions. Even those with insurance often limit contact with doctors, because their insurance doesn’t cover all of the cost. Further, American doctors are known for advocating the latest tests, procedures, and medications, and these are typically the most expensive, but often not better than the traditional ones.

The report has some hope however that the United States might improve in coming years, because just this year, the first federal plan to guarantee more universal coverage (the Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare”) takes effect in the U.S. While this law is an improvement over the current condition, it falls far short of universal coverage. President Obama would have preferred a more comprehensives plan, but was blocked by more conservative legislators and the politically powerful health insurance companies.

Comments from our readers

Now we give you an update on our poll results so far (you can see “Enquete” in the right column). The current question for our readers is:

Qual sua opinião sobre os médicos brasileiros?

Beyond the standard possible answers, our readers can leave their own comments, and so far, here is what they have said:

-“Parece que os médicos tem medo ou nojo de tocar nos pacientes. quando tem”

-”Melhor méd. é o que FAZ uma anamnese e se preocupa em fechar diagnostico”

-“Como qualquer profissional, há os mais interessados nos pacientes….”

– “Falta empatia e paixão pela medicina”

-“Deveriam atender mais o público que o privado..muito só pensam em ganhar dinheiro”

-“A maioria é muito dinheirista…”

Tell us what you think. Give your opinion by answering the question in the right column.

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Esta postagem também está disponível em: Portuguese (Brazil)

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