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U.S. Health Care Spending High, But Quality Lags: Report
Date:5/3/2012

he lowest spender at about 9 percent.

Despite their country's spending, Americans can expect poorer access to physicians than people in other industrialized nations, with just 2.4 doctors for every 100,000 citizens. On that score, only Japan fared worse, according to the report.

Other troubling indicators included the fact that Americans also have the second-worst rate of physician consultations (behind Sweden), relatively few hospital beds, fairly short hospital stays in acute-care situations and a low rate of hospital discharges.

It wasn't all bad news, however. The United States is No. 1 in survival rates among breast cancer patients. It also shares the top spot (with Norway) for survival rates among colorectal cancer patients.

But when it comes to both hospital and prescription drug costs, Americans are at the highest peak by far.

By the time a U.S. patient is discharged from a hospital, he or she will have cost the health care system about $18,000 on average. Care for a similar Canadian patient comes to just $13,000, while in many other countries (Sweden, Australia, New Zealand, France and Germany) it dips below $10,000.

When comparing the cost of the 30 most common prescription medications, the report found that Americans are paying one-third more than Canadians and Germans, and twice as much as their Australian, French, Dutch, British and New Zealand counterparts.

Americans can take some solace in the report's observation that every nation in the study is battling a trend of ever-increasing health care costs. Karen Davis, president of the Commonwealth Fund, noted that recent legislative changes have the potential to help improve the financials of health care across the country.

"The Affordable Care Act gives us the opportunity to build a health care system that delivers affordable, high-quality care to all Americans," Davis said in the news release. "To achieve that goal, the United States must use all of the t
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