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We Don’t Even Come Close to Having the World’s Best Health Care Systems

A doctor and patient discuss an injury.

A doctor and patient discuss an injury. A doctor and patient discuss an injury. | Joe Raedle/Getty Images

We like to think America is No. 1. While it may be true on the basketball court, in military spending, and in our hearts, it’s a different story when it comes to health care. Our health care system is, for lack of a better word, a mess. Although we have a system that incentivizes everyone to purchase health insurance, millions of people still go without. We also spend an incredible amount of money, all for worse outcomes than many of our peer nations.

The worst part? The plans being floated to improve our system might end up making it worse. So, just to get to the point across, we have a system in which we pay more for less, and it doesn’t cover everyone.

The American system differs from almost every other country in several ways. But the most obvious of all is we don’t have a government-run health care system — or a single-payer system, as some call it. Under these systems, everybody is covered, and taxes fund the program. We have variations of this for segments of our population, such as Medicare and Medicaid. But for the rest of us? It’s easy to get left out.

This is one of the reasons our system ranks so poorly among our peers. A new comparison all but proves it. The comparison, released by The Commonwealth Fund, pits the U.S. against 10 other countries and ranked them, worst to first. While there are many positive elements to our system, reading down the list shows there is a lot to be desired.

We’ll start with the country that came in dead last per The Commonwealth Fund’s list: the good old U.S. of A.

11. United States

We could write volumes about the troubles with the American system. But we’ve already covered the basics — namely that it’s expensive, it excludes a large number of people, and the outcomes often lag behind when compared to other countries. The report looked at a few key areas when developing its rankings. And according to the report, “The U.S. ranked last on performance overall and ranked last or near last on the Access, Administrative Efficiency, Equity, and Health Care Outcomes.”

Clearly, there’s a lot of work to do. One country we could look to emulate? France.

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