The Commonwealth Fund is out with a new report showing that the United States spends twice as much as any other country on health care, but still has a system with unbearably low quality, efficiency and equality standards:
For $7,290 per person, we’re buying a system that leaves 45 million uninsured and produces less quality and efficiency than a country that spends half as much ($3,000) and covers everyone. Germany, for instance, spends just $3,588 per person even though it has higher smoking rates and higher instances of chronic disease than the United States.
We should be spending less money and spending it differently, but any time you talk about diverting resources elsewhere or appropriating them in accordance with proven effectiveness, you’re met with charges of rationing care and death paneling seniors. The proponents of smaller government and responsible spending all rally (in fact, continually praise as the best in the world) behind a system that costs and wastes untold billions — all the while vilifying the more economically sound models of care.
Despite this opposition, there is certainly some sense that the payment reform demonstration projects and comparative effectiveness research provisions in the new health care law will begin to slowly push Medicare into paying for outcomes and lower spending over time. But that transformation is a slow crawl that will have to overcome the forces — politicians, providers — that are so determined to keeping America’s health care system in last place.