U.S. health care ranks last, again

The U.S. health care system ranks last – not an unfamiliar position – among industrialized countries, according to a new Commonwealth Fund report.

The 2014 report looks at the health care systems in 11 countries: Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the U.S.

The U.S. came in dead last, just as it did in the previous four editors of the report (2010, 2007, 2006 and 2004).

The report incorporates patients’ and physicians’ survey results on care experiences; information on the most recent three Commonwealth Fund international surveys of patients and primary care physicians; and information on health care outcomes.

“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,” according to the report.

“The most notable way the U.S. differs from other industrialized countries is the absence of universal health insurance coverage,” according to the report. “Other nations ensure the accessibility of care through universal health systems and through better ties between patients and the physician practices that serve as their medical homes.”

While the Affordable Care Act is increasing the number of Americans with coverage, the data used in the report are from years prior to the full implementation of the law, according to the Commonwealth Fund.

The report found that the U.S. ranks behind most other countries on many measures of health outcomes, quality and efficiency.

The U.S. also spends the most per capita on health care at $8,508, according to the report.

The U.K. ranked No.1 in the report, with Switzerland a close No. 2.

This chart, included in the Commonwealth Fund report, shows the breakdown:

Commonwealth Fund

Commonwealth Fund

Marissa Harshman

Marissa Harshman

I'm the health reporter for The Columbian newspaper in Vancouver, Wash. I started at The Columbian -- my hometown newspaper -- in September 2009. Reach me at marissa.harshman@columbian.com or 360-735-4546.

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