Study: US spends more on health with worse results

Study: US spends more on health with worse results

The United States spends far more per person on healthcare than other wealthy countries, but often has worse health outcomes, according to a new report. 


The report from the Commonwealth Fund, a health research group, reinforces a critique that reformers have long pointed out about the U.S. health system. 

The study finds that the U.S. spent $9,086 per person on healthcare in 2013. In a comparison group of 12 other wealthy countries, including the United Kingdom, Canada and France, the next closest country to the U.S. was Switzerland, which spends about $6,325 per person.

U.S. healthcare spending is also much larger when measured as a share of the economy. Healthcare spending is 17.1 percent of the U.S. economy, compared to 11.6 percent for France, in second place. 

But all of this extra healthcare spending does not appear to lead to better results across the board. 

Life expectancy in the U.S., at 78.8 years, is a few years lower than that in all 12 other countries. The U.S. also has by far the highest percentage of people 65 or older with two or more chronic conditions, at 68 percent. 

“Time and again, we see evidence that the amount of money we spend on health care in this country is not gaining us comparable health benefits,” said Commonwealth Fund President David Blumenthal. 

The data are from 2013, before the major provisions of ObamaCare took effect. The Obama administration is seeking to change the way Medicare pays for care, from paying a fee for each service provided to strategies like paying a set amount for an entire episode of care, in an effort to make payments smarter and cut costs.