How the U.S. Health Care System Compares Worldwide

How does the U.S. health care system perform relative to other countries on various dimensions of efficiency?
How does the U.S. health care system perform relative to other countries on various dimensions of efficiency?

HealthDay News — The U.S. health care system is one of the least efficient worldwide based on a Bloomberg index that assesses life expectancy, health care spending per capita, and relative spending as a share of gross domestic product, according to a report published by Bloomberg.

Noting that the United States has remained near the bottom of the Bloomberg Health-Care Efficiency Index since its creation in 2012, the 2014 index reflects the first year of implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Access to health insurance and payment subsidies started on Jan. 1, 2014, but the impact on life expectancy of the U.S. Affordable Care Act is likely to take longer.

In 2014, U.S. expenditures averaged $9,403 per person, about 17.1% of the gross domestic product; life expectancy was 78.9. Cuba and the Czech Republic have life expectancy close to that of the United States but pay much less on health care per capita; Switzerland and Norway have higher spending than the United States, and longer life expectancy.

According to the report, rankings for several nations have changed over time, with Sweden dropping from 14 in 2009 to 27 in 2014 as per-capita spending increased by more than 50 percent. Spending in Saudi Arabia increased almost 80 percent, with the ranking dropping 20 places to 38. Greece moved up to 13, with increased life expectancy and decreases in per capita spending.

The U.S. system "tends to be more fragmented, less organized, and coordinated, and that's likely to lead to inefficiency," said Paul Ginsburg, PhD, from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, according to the article.

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