Our Unimpressive Health Care System

For several years now the Commonwealth Fund has been doing invaluable comparative reports of different countries’ health care systems based on surveys with doctors and patients. Time and again these surveys show that there’s no perfect system out there, but that the American system delivers incredibly high costs in exchange for nothing in particular in terms of quality. The latest report adds the Dutch system into the mix and finds it’s basically the best. Here’s the summary:

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Personally, I’m an admirer of the ultra-cheap UK system that I think appropriately de-prioritizes health care services relative to other public services and achieves decent quality and enormous efficiency while doing so. But everything about that system cuts against the American grain. The Australian system, at least as I understand it, is structurally much more similar to what we do in America and probably more in line with our cultural norms and manages to do a much better job than our system. The high-performing Dutch system is broadly similar to the Affordable Care Act in its structure, but it adds a government-run social insurance component for catastrophic costs.

The Netherlands overhauled its insurance system very recently, however, and I have to believe the quality of its providers has longer-standing roots than the 2006 reforms.