May 4, 2012 by David K. Sutton
America Has The Best Health Care? Not In A Fact-Based World.
The United States of America has the highest health care costs of 13 industrialized countries with an average cost of $8,000 per person in 2009. Japan has the lowest costs at just $2,878 per person in 2008. This is from a study by The Commonwealth Fund, a private foundation whose mission is to “promote a high performing health care system that achieves better access, improved quality, and greater efficiency, particularly for society’s most vulnerable”.
For those who have done even a little research and reading on health care its old news that the United States has the highest per capita health care costs without better outcomes.
US health care spending amounted to more than 17 percent of gross domestic product in 2009, while Japan’s was under nine percent of GDP.
“Japan operates a fee-for-service system, while offering unrestricted access to specialists and hospitals and a large supply of MRI and CT scanners,” said the report.
“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.”
“It is a common assumption that Americans get more health care services than people in other countries, but in fact we do not go to the doctor or the hospital as often,” said study author David Squires, senior research associate at The Commonwealth Fund.
“The higher prices we pay for health care and perhaps our greater use of expensive technology are the more likely explanations for high health spending in the US. Unfortunately, we do not seem to get better quality for this higher spending.”
We do have some of the best health care facilities and doctors in the United States, but that does not mean we have the best health care system. In fact, we have no system at all. We have a patchwork quilt of otherwise disconnected health care services. There are different standards for different states, insurance companies and health care providers. All of this, along with the profit motive, makes health care in the United States inefficient and much more expensive than it needs to be.
Next time you hear a conservative say we have the best health care in the world, ask them how good health care is for the tens of millions in poverty. We have the best potential health care for those who can afford to pay for it. If you can’t afford it, the conservative argument is that emergency rooms won’t turn you away. That is all you need to hear to know they are on the losing side of this debate.