US ranks lowest in health care survey of developed nations

In a survey of patients and primary care doctors in 11 industrialized nations, the U.S. health care system ranked last in terms of quality, efficiency, access to care equity and healthy lives, USA Today reported.

The survey, conducted by The Commonwealth Fund, a private foundation that "aims to promote a high performing health care system" in the U.S., utilized questionnaires in addition to data from the World Health Organization and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development to produce rankings among the countries studied.

While the U.S. has the world’s most expensive health care system, this is the fifth year it’s landed at the bottom of the Commonwealth Fund survey, faring worst in measures of “efficiency, equity, and outcomes.”

The U.S. had poor scores on measures of healthy lives, infant mortality, healthy life expectancy at age 60, access to needed services and prompt attention from primary care physicians. On other measures the U.S. fared better, ranking third for “effective care” and also ranking highly on preventative care and quick access to specialists.

The ten other countries included in the survey were Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. The UK ranked highest.

The Commonwealth Fund analysis noted that, unlike the other industrialized countries, the U.S. does not have universal health care. This year’s survey used data from before Affordable Care Act was fully implemented in the U.S.

"Other nations ensure the accessibility of care through universal health systems and through better ties between patients and the physician practices that serve as their medical homes," the fund wrote in its summary.

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