America’s health-care system ranked 44th of 51 nations assessed by Bloomberg, in terms of per person spending, life expectancy and health-care cost as a percentage of the economy. It’s an improvement from 46th of 48 last year, yet Serbia, Turkey and China still scored better.
Singapore, with the top ranking, spent $2,426 per person and had a life expectancy of 82.1 years in 2012, the most recent year for which data are available. In comparison, the U.S. shoveled cash into health care — $8,895 per person, per year — and Americans are expected to live for 78.7 years.
There’s a lack of accountability among Americans, according to policy experts. “We keep protecting individuals from the health-care costs that come from the fact that we don’t have healthy lifestyles,” Cindy Gillespie, a senior managing director at the law and policy firm McKenna Long and Aldridge LLP. “We haven’t accepted that people have an element of personal responsibility around their health.”
All OECD countries have universal (or quasi-universal) health coverage for a core set of health services and goods, except Mexico and the United States. Following the 2004 reforms in Mexico, the proportion of the population covered has grown rapidly to reach nearly 90%. In the United States, where 15% of the population was still uninsured in 2011, the Affordable Care Act will further expand health insurance coverage, from January 2014.
The burden of out-of-pocket spending creates barriers to health care access in some countries. On average, 20% of health spending is paid directly by patients; this ranges from less than 10% in the Netherlands and France to over 35% in Chile, Korea and Mexico