Why the US health care system is among the worst in the developed world.
It leaves us much sicker than other countries.
On almost every objective measure, the US health care system falls far behind other developed countries. The most exhaustive non-partisan study of health care outcomes to date found that the US health care system is dead last in stopping preventable deaths. Babies are more than twice as likely to die in the US than in Japan — we have a worse infant mortality rate than Cuba. We're ranked 30th in the world for life expectancy, lower than Bosnia and Herzegovina. And US patients say they're less satisfied with their health care than almost any other industrialized nation.
It's leaving us bankrupt.
Even though we have one of the worst health care systems in the developed world, we spend much more on it than any other country in the world. The US spends far more on health care per capita than any other country, 24% more than the next highest spender (Luxembourg). Health care spending is also growing faster in the US than almost anywhere else. Americans pay more for their care than others pay for the exact same treatments. Over the next eight years, experts expect health care spending to be a fifth of the nation's GDP.
It leaves many of us out altogether.
Despite spending so much on health care, the US covers much less of its population than most other developed nations. In 2007, more than a third of Americans said they went without needed care because costs were too high. More Americans die from lack of medical care due to being uninsured than from homicide, according to the non-partisan Urban Institute. (Homicide stats from the CDC.) As health care costs escalate, one way American insurers save money is by dumping their sickest patients through a practice called "rescission."NEXT: What Congress is trying to do about these problems.