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US spends far more for health care than 12 industrialized nations, but quality varies
Date:5/2/2012

r study countriesfactors that could offset higher spending linked to obesity, the report notes.

Health Care Quality Varies Widely Despite High Spending in the United States

High spending in the United States does not always translate into high-quality care. According to the report, the U.S. had the highest survival rates in the study for breast cancer, as well as the best survival rates, along with Norway, for colorectal cancer. However, cervical cancer survival rates in the U.S. were worse than average and well below those of Norway.

Compared to other countries in the study, the U.S. had high rates of asthma-related deaths among people ages 5 to 39 and, along with Germany, very high rates of amputations resulting from diabetes. U.S. rates of in-hospital deaths after heart attack and stroke were average.

All of the countries in the study, except for the U.S., provide universal health care, and all struggle with rising health costs. The level of health care spending in the U.S., however, stands apart. If the U.S. were to spend the same share of its GDP on health care as the Netherlandsthe country spending the next-largest share of GDPthe savings would have been $750 billion in 2009.

The Japanese Model of Cost Control

Japan offers an interesting model for controlling costs. Although its health care system shares certain features with the U.S., Japan is the lowest-spending nation of the group ($2,878 per capita in 2008). Japan operates a fee-for-service system, while offering unrestricted access to specialists and hospitals and a large supply of MRI and CT scanners. Rather than containing costs by restricting access, Japan instead sets health care prices to keep total health spending within a budget allotted by the government.

In the U.S., individual payers negotiate prices with health care providers, a system that leads to complexityand varying prices for the same goods and services, according to the
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Contact: Mary Mahon
mm@cmwf.org
212-606-3853
Commonwealth Fund
Source:Eurekalert

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