Tuesday, March 13, 2012

So How Does Health Care in the United States Compare to Other Countries?

Listen to the common wisdom about the state of health care in the U.S. and it's easy to conclude that we're on the verge of catastrophe.  Academics say we have a "non-system," politicians bemoan the "lack of coordination" and the policymakers condemn "unsustainable" costs. When our health care is compared to that of the Burgundy-sipping French, the olive-oil loving Italians and the bicyle-riding Dutch, our commentariat are ashamed that we Americans haven't joined the rest of the civilized world in offering high value care to its citizens.

Is it really that bad?

To find out, the Disease Management Care Blog looked at these data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Take the test below and decide for yourself if the experts really have it right.  Answers are at the bottom.

1. Which country, as of 2009, had the highest percentage of persons who reported that their health is good?

A. Switzerland
B. Iceland
C. United States
D. New Zealand

2. Name the country that has the highest rate of obesity and the 2nd highest rate of diabetes?

A. Mexico
B. United States
C. Canada
E. New Zealand

3. An excess of physicians can drive increased health care costs.  Which country has the highest number of physicians per capita?

A. Netherlands
B. United States

4. Which country has the greatest number of MRI and CAT scanners per capita?

A. United States
B. Australia
C. Japan
D. Israel

5. Which country has the highest Cesarean section rates per 100 live births?

A. Italy
B. United States
C. Switzerland

6. Does the U.S or Canada have a higher percentage of women getting pap smears?

A. Canada
B. United States

7. Does the U.S or Belgium have a higher percentage of women age 50-69 getting  mammograms?

A. Belgium
B. United States

8. While the Slovak Republic leads the world in asthma admissions per 100K, which country is close behind in 2nd place?

A. Korea
B. United States
C. Poland

9. True or false: The United States' rate of hospital admissions for uncontrolled diabetes is above the OECD average.

A. True
B. False.

10.  While the U.S. leads the OECD with a 20% rate of skipping a provider visit or going without a prescription, which country is in second place with a 17% rate?

A. Germany
B. Netherlands
C. France

11. While the U.S. spends more per capita for health care, health care costs are rising all the OECD countries:

True or False: from 2000 through 2009, the rate of increase in the U.S. health care costs was above the OECD average of 4.0%

12. While Americans make up the largest percentage of DMCB readers, which country in the last month came in second?

A. India
B. Canada
C. Great Britain



1. C The U.S. So, while we spend more, it can be argued that we are getting our money's worth

2. B The U.S. There may be lots wrong with the U.S. care system, but the U.S. also has a higher burden of disease. Toss in high trauma rates and other impacts from poverty and it can be argued that importing a new health system may not translate into greater health.

3. A The Netherlands.  In fact, both countries are below the OECD average.

4. C Japan, but the U.S. is second in the world in the per capita rate of scans.  We apparently use our scanners a lot more!

5. A Italy is higher. C-section rates are skyrocketing world wide.

6. B The U.S. is 78.7%, while Canada is 75.3%

7. B. The United States. In fact, Belgium is below the OECD average

8. B. This is one area where the U.S. should be doing better.

9. B. False.  Denmark and Sweden, by the way, are above average.

10. A Germany, which has universal insurance.

11. B. False  While absolute costs are a significant issue, the rate of cost increases also keep politicians and regulators awake at night. The U.S. rate was a relatively tame 3.3%, behind Belgium, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, all of where were above average.

12. Everybody sing....."O Canada, our home and native land....."


GlassHospital said...

Beret-wearing Dutch???

Jaan Sidorov said...

You're right! There was a PBS documentary on health care that revealed there is no shortage of berets in that country too. After thinking about it, though, I changed it to "bicycle riding." They do that WITH their berets.