The United States spent the most on health care among the world's wealthiest nations. A report published by the non-profit association, Commonwealth Fund, claims that, in 2021, Americans spent 17.8% of their GDP on their healthcare system. This percentage is almost double that of the rest of the first world countries.
The Hill reports this amount is three to four times higher than countries such as South Korea, New Zealand and Japan, according to the researchers' comparison of data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Health Statistics’ 2022 database and the Commonwealth Fund's International Health Policy Survey 2022.
Life expectancy is 77 years
The analysis indicates that, despite the amount invested in health care, overall health throughout the nation is well below that of other high-income countries. UPI claims that life expectancy in the United States is decreasing year after year and is currently at 77 years, three years below other high-income countries. Munira Gunja, senior researcher at the Commonwealth Fund’s International Health Policy and Practice Program and author of the report explained:
The U.S. stands out as the only nation in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development [OECD] without universal health coverage, our life expectancy is dropping, and we have higher rates of avoidable deaths than other nations,
The obesity rate, the report details, is also of concern. The United States nearly doubles the OECD average, with an obesity rate of 43%. The rest of the countries, on the contrary, have an average obesity rate of 25%. The next countries with high obesity are New Zealand (34%), Australia (30%) and the United Kingdom (28%).
Increase in preventable deaths
Along with this, the nation's preventable death rate was 336 deaths per 100,000 people in 2020. The OECD average stood at 225. According to The Hill, the causes of this may be due, in part, to differences in the level of violence in the United States. 7.4 deaths per 100,000 Americans are the result of an assault. Other countries have a much lower ratio between 0.2 to 1.3 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants for the same reason.
However, for Munira Gunja, the cause is not only due to the level of violence in the United States. The expert said in a press release that part of the problem lies in the design of the American healthcare system:
Americans are living shorter, less healthy lives because our health system is not working as well as it could be. To catch up with other high-income countries, the administration and Congress would have to expand access to health care, act aggressively to control costs, and invest in health equity and social services we know can lead to a healthier population.
Learning from other countries
Such unequal access to health services could be one of the reasons why people in the United States are more likely to live with multiple health problems compared to other affluent countries, due to the fact that they are diagnosed late.
The Commonwealth Fund's International Health Policy Survey 2022 revealed that nearly 30% of American adults participating in the survey said they had two or more chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, asthma, cancer, diabetes, heart disease or cancer.
According to Reginald D. Williams II, leader of the Commonwealth Fund's International Program, people in the nation make fewer health visits than other countries such as Japan or Germany:
This analysis continues to demonstrate the importance of international comparisons. It offers an opportunity for the U.S. to learn from other countries and build a better health care system that delivers affordable, high-quality health care for everyone.