American Healthcare is the Most Expensive and Gives the Worse Service

November 12, 2012

American Healthcare is the Most Expensive and Gives the Worse Service

Americans pay much more for their health care, but a new study suggests that other countries provide faster and better coordinated care. The reason for this difference is because the other countries are better at providing primary care and complex treatment, in the form of doctors’ surgeries or clinics. The report uses the term medical home to describe such places. These are the places where the patient gets his or her regular care from professional health providers and where the patient’s medical history is known. Medical homes have been promoted as part of The Affordable Care Act, signed in 2009. Officials at the Commonwealth Fund believe that it is a superior method to cut errors and to coordinate care.

The report, published by the Commonwealth Fund compared medical services in the U.S with other industrialized countries. Incidences of poor information being given, coordination gaps, medical errors and emergency room visits were all lower in countries with medical homes. One finding was that 42% of American patients said that they had duplicate tests, gaps in care, or other issues in the previous year. The U.K. and Switzerland had about 21% of patients with the same issues and medical homes are in wide use in both countries.

Cathy Schoen, MS, senior vice president at the Commonwealth Fund supports the use of medical homes by saying, “For sicker patients and patients having chronic disease, having a medical home makes a difference. It makes a difference in every country”.

Health Care Too Expensive in the U.S.

The study involved about 18,000 patients in eleven countries. They were all chronically or seriously ill and the countries studied were the U.S., U.K., the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Australia, Canada, France, Germany and Switzerland.

The study identified that patients in the U.S. were more liable to go without medical care for financial reasons than in any other country. More than 40% of Americans confirmed that they had not seen a doctor, or bought medicines by prescription because of cost. This was twice as likely to happen in the U.S. as any other country in the study.

Another finding was that medical errors reported by the patient were between two and three times more frequent in the U.S. than in the U.K. or Switzerland.

The study was not all bad from the American patient’s perspective. It did find that when it came to contacting their health care professional for advice or to ask a question the U.S. patients were the most satisfied.

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