The Best Paper You'll Read Today
Elizabeth Docteur and Bob Berenson offer whether American health care really is the "best in the world." The two Urban Institute researchers take a comprehensive look at the evidence -- including the difficulties in gathering that evidence and the inadequacies in the current studies -- and conclude:
the picture that emerges from the information available on technical quality and related aspects of health system performance is a mixed bag, with the United States doing relatively well in some areas — such as cancer care — and less well in others — such as mortality from conditions amenable to prevention and treatment. Many Americans would be surprised by the findings from studies showing that U.S. health care is not clearly superior to that received by Canadians, and that in some respects Canadian care has been shown to be of higher quality. ...
Taken together, these studies do provide a strong basis for determining whether proposed health reform initiatives might threaten or, alternatively, strengthen the current level of U.S. quality. While evidence is not conclusive, it is clear that the argument that reform of the U.S. health system stands to endanger “the best health care quality in the world” lacks foundation. Like other countries, the United States has been found to have both strengths and weaknesses in terms of the quality of care available, and the quality of care the population receives. The main ways in which the United States differs from other developed countries are in the very high costs of its health care and the share of its population that is uninsured.
Full paper here.
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