The United States health care system is the most expensive in the world, but this report and prior editions consistently show the U.S. underperforms relative to other countries on most dimensions of performance. Among the 11 nations studied in this report—Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom. Most troubling, the U.S. fails to achieve better health outcomes than the other countries, and as shown in the earlier editions, the U.S. is last or near last on dimensions of access, efficiency, and equity. The U.S. also ranks behind most countries on many measures of health outcomes, quality, and efficiency. U.S. physicians face particular difficulties receiving timely information, coordinating care, and dealing with administrative hassles. Other countries have led in the adoption of modern health information systems, but U.S. physicians and hospitals are catching up as they respond to significant financial incentives to adopt and make meaningful use of health information technology systems.
The most notable way the U.S. differs from other industrialized countries is the absence of universal health insurance coverage. Not surprisingly—given the absence of universal coverage—people in the U.S. go without needed health care because of cost more often than people do in the other countries. The other 10 countries spend considerably less on health care per person and as a percent of gross domestic product than does the United States.