The U.S. is a world leader in terms of how much funds a country spends on healthcare. Politicians and news anchors often mention it during election campaigns. However, officials generally hush up the fact that the United States has significantly low quality of medical services provided. This paper aims to compare the U.S. and Australian healthcare system performance based on The Commonwealth Fund Report.
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The report is based on healthcare data from the United States, Switzerland, Sweden, France, Germany, Netherlands, Canada, United Kingdom, New Zealand, Norway, and Australia. According to Chart 1, from 1980 to 2014, Commonwealth countries where spending on the healthcare from 9% to 11.4% of GDP, while the U.S. was spending 16.6% of GDP (Schneider et al., 2017). Chart 2 addresses critical aspects of the healthcare system’s performance – care process, access, administrative efficiency, equity, healthcare outcomes (Schneider et al., 2017).
Ironically, in the overall ranking U.S. occupies the last 11th place, with most indicators taking 11th place, except for the care process, 5th place. The U.K. attained the best overall ranking, overtaking Australia and Netherlands. At the same time, the best healthcare outcomes were shown by Australia, Sweden, and Norway. It is noteworthy that Australia also has a low level of mortality amenable to healthcare – 65 deaths per 100,000 populations, compared with 110 deaths in the U.S.
Perhaps the reason for excellent Australian healthcare outcomes is its Medicare public insurance plan, funded through tax revenue, similarly to the British NHS system. However, in Australia, unlike the U.K., many hospitals are private and 50% of its citizens “purchase private health insurance to access care outside the public system” (Schneider et al., 2017, p. 10). Conceivably, a more detailed study of Australian healthcare processes will help the United States achieve equally impressive results. Noteworthy, the population of Australia is 25.5 million people, compared with 325.7 million people in the U.S., and it has more centralized administration, which simplifies control over the medical services provided.
Thus, the U.S. and Australian healthcare system performance was compared and contrasted. According to the Commonwealth Fund Report, the U.S. ranks first in terms of healthcare spending, and last in terms of quality of medical services provided. Leaders are the UK with its NHS services and Australia with its Medicare public insurance plan, plenty of private hospitals, and 50% of the population purchasing private health insurance.
Schneider, E. C., Sarnak, O. D., Squires, D., Shah, A. & Doty, M. M. (2017). Mirror, mirror 2017: International comparison reflects flaws and opportunities for better U.S. health care. Web.