The United States spends more than two-and-a-half times on health care – around $8,233 per person per year – than most developed nations in the world spend. This is due in part to how difficult it is to control private health insurance prices in the United States. Health insurers are faced with a dilemma: ask health care providers to contain their costs, or pass the burden of higher costs onto patients via higher premiums. In many cases, it is the patients who end up paying the price – literally.
Despite the substantial amount of money shelled out for health care, the United States may not be getting its money’s worth in terms of its health care system. A new report from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) – an international economic group comprised of 34 member nations – reveals some statistics about the United States that could be considered disturbing:
- The United States had just 2.6 hospital beds per 1,000 people in 2009, while the OECD average for that same year was 3.4 beds.
- The United States has fewer doctors per person than in most other OECD countries. For example, in 2010 the United States had 2.4 practicing physicians per 1,000 people. The OECD average for 2010 was 3.1 doctors.
- The average lifespan in the United States for 2010 was 78.7 years, falling more than one year below the OECD average of 79.8 years.
OECD uncovered a bit of good news for the United States as well, in regard to health care research and cancer treatment:
- The five-year survival rate for breast cancer is higher in the United States than in other OECD countries.
- Colorectal cancer survival for the United States also ranks high compared to other OECD countries.
- The United States is the global leader in health care research and cancer treatment.
Do you feel that Americans get enough bang for their buck in regard to health care? If so, why? If not, where do you feel the United States health care system falls short?