The U.S. health care system still scores a not-quite-good-enough, failing to save lives that could easily have been saved and racking up enormous bills with little to show for it, according to a report released on Tuesday.
There are some elements in the 2010 health care law that may eventually improve things, but overall, the United States is not getting better, the Commonwealth Fund Commission on a High Performance Health System found.
“Overall, the National Scorecard on U.S. Health System Performance, 2011, finds that the United States is losing ground in the effort to ensure affordable access to health care. Although there are promising improvements on key indicators, quality of care remains uneven,” the report states.
“The U.S. health system continues to underperform relative to what should be achievable and to the enormous resources invested.”
The non-profit Commonwealth Fund consistently advocates for health care reform and regularly publishes reports showing that the United States falls behind other developed countries in caring for patients – while spending by far the most money per capita.
Its latest scorecard rates the U.S. health care system on a 100-point scale on factors such as controlling blood sugar in diabetes patients, preventing newborn mortality, and childhood obesity. The United States scores a middling-to-poor 64 on this scale, according to the report.
“Of great concern, access to health care significantly eroded since 2006. As of 2010, more than 81 million working-age adults—44 percent of those ages 19 to 64—were uninsured during the year or underinsured, up from 61 million (35 percent) in 2003,” the report states.
The health care law aims to add 32 million Americans to health insurance rolls. It also aims to eventually improve the quality of care to bring down costs, but those provisions have not taken effect.
“The U.S. ranks last out of 16 industrialized countries on a measure of mortality amenable to medical care (deaths that might have been prevented with timely and effective care), with premature death rates that are 68 percent higher than in the best-performing countries," the report reads. "As many as 91,000 fewer people would die prematurely if the U.S. could achieve the leading country rate.”
The U.S. scored a 65 on this report card in 2008 and 67 in 2006.
“If we target areas where we fall short and learn from high-performing innovators within the United States, we should see significant progress in the future,” Commonwealth Fund Commission Chairman Dr. David Blumenthal, a professor of health care policy at Harvard Medical School, said in a statement.
These may include administrative areas, duplicated services, and low use of electronic information systems.