The US Healthcare (spending and outcomes) part 1

In 2019, the U.S. spent 17.7 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) on health care ($3.8 trillion or $11,582 per person), nearly twice as much as the average eleven G10 industrialized countries. As a comparison, New Zealand and Australia devote only 9.3 percent, approximately half as much as the U.S. spends.

What are the outcomes, based on quality metrics? According to The Commonwealth Fund (The Commonwealth Fund, 2020):

  • The U.S. spends more on health care as a share of the economy — nearly twice as much as the average industrialized country — yet has the lowest life expectancy and highest suicide rates among the G10 nations.
  • The U.S. has the highest chronic disease burden and an obesity rate that is two times higher than the G10 average.
  • Americans had fewer physician visits than peers in most countries, which may be related to a low supply of physicians in the U.S.
  • Americans use some expensive technologies, such as MRIs, and specialized procedures, such as hip replacements, more often than our peers.
  • The U.S. outperforms its peers in terms of preventive measures — it has the one of the highest rates of breast cancer screening among women ages 50 to 69 and the second-highest rate (after the U.K.) of flu vaccinations among people age 65 and older.
  • Compared to peer nations, the U.S. has among the highest number of hospitalizations from preventable causes and the highest rate of avoidable deaths.

What are the takeaways:

While the United States spends more on health care than any other country, it is not achieving comparable performance. The analysis shows health outcomes, including low life expectancy and high suicide rates, compared to our peer nations. Efforts to rein in costs, improve affordability and access to needed care, coupled with greater efforts to address risk factors, are required to alleviate the problem.

We will look at a more in-depth analysis of this pressing problem in the next blog posting.


The Commonwealth Fund. (2020, January 30). Retrieved from U.S. Health Care from a Global Perspective, 2019: Higher Spending, Worse Outcomes?:

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on

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