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The U.S. Ranks 11th in Healthcare….Out of Eleven

June 20, 2014

In case you didn’t hear, a recent Commonwealth Fund report found that the United States rank 11th out of 11 countries when it comes to healthcare. The criterion was based on access, equity, quality, efficiency and the overall health of its people. The report looked at Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

Not surprisingly, even though we had the most expensive healthcare system, we are the lowest performer out of these countries. In fact, the U.S. spent over $8,500 per person in 2011 while the UK, the highest ranked country, only spent around $3,400.

The U.S. ranked last in cost-related problems, efficiency, equity and healthy lives.

Unfortunately, this news doesn’t (and shouldn’t) come to a shock to many people. We have been hearing for a few years now how expensive our healthcare is even though our outcomes don’t reflect the quality we think we are paying for.

Now that many more Americans are covered by health insurance, it is time to start thinkingabout the next steps. The report says that 37% of American adults forgo medical care because of the cost. They may not know the price, but they know it will be more than they can afford. This is a problem and one that needs to be addressed sooner, rather than later.

How can you, as an individual, take part in starting change towards a more affordable system with higher-quality care? The first step is to choose a high-quality, low-cost doctor, preferably one who has been recognized as such by an unbiased organization. The next step is to demand price and quality transparency by contacting your local legislator. If you know the price and quality of a medical service, you have the ability to shop where you can get the best deal, like you do with most other “shoppable” items. This causes a radical change in the way companies price their goods. Healthcare should be the same way. By choosing a facility that provides you with high-quality services but at the lowest cost for that quality, you are telling other facilities: “I choose to be a smart, informed consumer and to get my business, you should lower your cost or increase your quality.”

There is a long way for us to go from the bottom of the group to the leader of the pack, but it can be done and we can’t rely on insurance companies or anyone else to do it. We need to be demanding enough for pressure to build and fuel the fire for change.

How do you think you can help facilitate change? Let us know by joining the conversation on Twitter with #INQUIREblog