How the U.S. Health Care System Compares
with Programs Run by Other Governments

John Hammond, Ph.D.

This table shows how the U.S. health care system compares with that of four countries that have comprehensive government-run plans. The numbers are extracted from reports on the NationMaster.com Web site. The full reports can be accessed by clicking the links below for each country.

Although we spend far more per person per year, these measurable criteria demonstrate that the other systems are working as well or better. It is especially noteworthy that although the United States is the richest country in the world, it has the poorest performance in infant mortality. The figures for "years lived in poor health" show that most of the other systems outperform ours. In terms of physicians and hospital beds the universal systems match or exceed the U.S. system. We have more doctor visits, but it does not appear that this leads to better outcomes. The other systems permit patients to stay longer in hospitals, which might mean that their seriously ill are treated more compassionately. Out obesity and teen pregnancy rates are more than double those in the other countries, which reflects the rampant way business interests and malignant forces influence our behavior.

Overall, these data demonstrate that the huge per-person expenditure by the United States has not resulted in better outcomes. Much of this expense is attributable to administrative waste and unwarranted profits made by private insurance companies, both of which could be minimized or eliminated by the establishment of a government-run public plan. In fact, the amounts involved are likely to be sufficient to cover Americans who are now uninsured or inadequately insured.

 

USA

Canada

UK

France

Germany

Expenditure per capita (2004) in current U.S. dollars / Rank
$6096 / #1
$3038 / #17
$2900 / #18
$3464 / #11
$3521 / #10
Expenditure, total % of Gross Domestic Product (GDP)
15.4
9.8
8.1
10.5
10.6
Public spending as % of total
44.9
69.9
83.4
78.5
76
Deaths from cancer per 100,000
322
NA
254
286
NA
Digestive disease deaths per 100,000
21
17.4
22
25.5
29
Heart disease deaths per 100,000
107
94.9
122
NA
106
Infant mortality per 1,000 births
6.3
5.1
4.9
4.31
4.03
Maternal mortality per 100,000
8
NA
7
10
8
Healthy life expectancy at birth: females
71.3
74
72.1
74.7
74
Healthy life expectancy at birth: males
67.2
70.1
69.1
69.3
69.6
Years lived in ill health: female
10.7
10.4
9
9.5
8.9
Years lived in ill health: male
8
8.4
6.6
6.6
6.8
Obesity percentage
30.6
14.3
23
9.4
12.9
Teen pregnancy share of births percentage
22.0
10
NA
4
6
Physicians per 1,000
2.3
2.1
2.2
3.4
3.4
Consultation with physicians per year
8.9
6.3
4.9
6.9
6.5
Hospital beds per 1000
3.3
3.9
4.1
8.4
9.2
Acute beds per 1000
2.9
3.2
3.9
4
9
Duration of hospitalizations days
5.8
7.2
6.9
8.5
NA

This article was posted on August 8, 2009.

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