US Healthcare System Ranks Last Among 10 Peers

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The United States' healthcare system consistently underperforms compared to 10 other countries — Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom — and ranks last overall.

A report from The Commonwealth Fund compares the 11 countries' healthcare systems on a number of metrics, including quality of care, access to care, care efficiency, care equity and healthy lives. In addition to this year's report, the U.S. ranked last in the 2010, 2007, 2006 and 2004 editions as well.

Data were gathered from The Commonwealth Fund surveys and from the World Health Organization and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

The U.K. ranked first overall, with Switzerland ranking a close second, according to the report.

In terms of quality, the U.S. ranked fifth. The quality care ranking included four categories: effective care, safe care, coordinated care and patient-centered care. Though the nation's scores for effective care and patient-centered care were relatively high, "lower scores on safe and coordinated care pull the overall U.S. quality score down," according to the report.

The lack of universal healthcare coverage pulled the U.S. access score down. "People in the U.S. go without needed healthcare because of cost more often than people do in other countries," according to the report. In a related measure, the U.S. ranked last in terms of equity, as citizens with below-average incomes are more likely than those in other countries to not visit a physician or go without needed care because of costs.

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