Every three years, the Commonwealth Fund releases a report ranking the healthcare systems of 11 of the world’s developed nation. And every three years, it seems, the United States comes in dead last.
Last released in 2017, the report showed for the sixth time that the U.S. healthcare system is in dire need of a makeover, citing the inequity of access as the most glaring problem.
The Commonwealth Fund focused on care process, access, administrative efficiency, equity and health care outcomes, studying 72 indicators within those fields. The 11 countries analyzed were Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.
The report found that 44 percent of low-income Americans have trouble gaining access to coverage compared with 26 percent of high-income Americans.
The one area where the U.S. does shine?
In addition to ranking last or close to last in access, administrative efficiency, equity and health care outcomes, the U.S. was found to spend the most money on health care.
The glaring difference between the United States and its peer countries is the lack of universal healthcare coverage -- a system continuously rejected by America’s political establishment.
“To gain more than incremental improvement,..the U.S. may need to pursue different approaches to organizing and financing the delivery system,” the report reads. “These could include strengthening primary care, supporting organizations that excel at care coordination and moving away from fee-for-service payment to other types of purchasing that create incentives to better coordinate care. These steps should ensure early diagnosis and treatment, improve the affordability of care, and ultimately improve the health of all Americans.”
Though the next report is not due out until 2020, there is little reason to believe its findings will be much different.
After taking control of the federal government, Republicans have worked diligently -- if not quite successfully -- to dismantle the Affordable Care Act and whittle away at the number of Americans qualifying for Medicaid, largely through state-mandated work requirements.
And as reported earlier this month, President Donald Trump also recently signed an executive order that has the potential to impact the availability of healthcare coverage for low-income Americans.
Trump signed the Reducing Poverty in America by Promoting Opportunity and Economic Mobility executive order privately Tuesday, ordering secretaries across the government to review their welfare programs — from food stamps to Medicaid to housing programs — and propose new regulations, like work requirements.
The executive order calls on federal agencies to enforce current work requirements, propose additional, stronger requirements, and find savings (in other words, make cuts), and to give states more flexibility to run welfare programs.