U.S. healthcare system is one of the best in the world, with cutting edge technology and highly qualified doctors. Particularly in cancer care, many advancements in the country have led to miraculous benefits to the patients. However, the healthcare expenditure and the overall population health seem to be in a reverse relation and the healthcare system looks like “woefully dysfunctional”.
According to recent findings, the annual expenditure on healthcare by the U.S. is approximately double than of countries that are a part of Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). However, contrary to expectations, in life expectancy and overall well-being of the population, it ranks near the bottom.
The gap between spending and health has been increasing distinctly in recent years. When compared to OECD countries, over the last 40 years, the U.S. US healthcare system has increased to 4.6 years in every citizen’s life. On the other side, it increased by an average of 7.9 years for the rest of the countries.
Moreover, the increase in healthcare spending in the United States was more than 12-fold – from $941 per person in 1980, it increased to $11,172 in 2018. In comparison, the increase in spending per capita of the OECD countries was 4-fold.
The difference between the two has clearly made the country an outlier, with a relatively low life expectancy and very high expenditure.
These aren’t the only things the “greatest nation of the world” is lacking in. Despite being among the most developed countries, it has, relatively, fewer physicians, hospitals and psychiatric beds than other economically powerful nations.
According to recent statistics, less than 4% of U.S. healthcare spending is allocated to public health. Furthermore, recent cuts in federal and state spending on public health and research have made matters worse.
The inverse relation between the two factors is not a result of some anomaly or a one-time event. Rather, it’s a problem in structure and it needs an immediate response. The low expectancy is alarming and must be catered to right away. The country currently needs a strong-headed government that “takes the long view on addressing the so-called disease of despair as well as socioeconomic determinants of health.”
Joshua Cohen, an independent healthcare analyst wrote,
“In the U.S. context, it is challenging for health technology assessment entities to assume a societal perspective. The nation’s decentralized, pluralistic healthcare system doesn’t lend itself to a broad, all-encompassing viewpoint. Nevertheless, in light of disconcerting data on life expectancy coupled with ever-increasing healthcare expenditures, it is important to begin to at least envision ways of capturing a societal perspective”.
About the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)
OECD is an intergovernmental economic organization, founded in 1961, with 36 member countries. The main objective of the organization is to stimulate economic progress and world trade. It is a forum for countries to share and compare policy experiences, seek answers to common problems, identify plausible solutions and coordinate domestic and international policies.
Most OECD members are high income, economically advanced countries, committed to democracy and market economy, with a high Human Development Index. As of 2017, the 36 member countries collectively comprise of 62.2% of global nominal GDP (the US $49.6 trillion) and 42.8% of global GDP (Int $54.2 trillion) at purchasing power parity.