The United States is the global leader in healthcare spending but its results are dismal, according to several organizations. The latest report is from the Social Progress Index and the results are revealing.
According to the report, the United States ranks 1st in healthcare spending but places 70th in healthcare outcomes (out of 132 countries analyzed). If this was just one report, we may be able to disregard the numbers as biased in some way. But the World Health Organization (WHO) comes to a similar conclusion ranking the U.S. in the 46th position globally in healthcare outcomes.
U.S. Healthcare Lags Behind other Rich Countries
Further still, our very own National Institutes of Health initiated their own study (Shorter Lives, Poorer Health) through the National Research Council (US) and the Institute of Medicine (US) and came to similar conclusions. Specifically, “The United States is among the wealthiest nations in the world…but Americans live shorter lives and experience more injuries and illnesses than people in other high-income countries.”
The report, titled “The Panel on Understanding Cross-National Health Differences Among High-Income Countries” compared U.S. health outcomes with other wealthy countries including Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom.
According to the study, “Despite the fact that America shells out more money on healthcare than any other country in the world, according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – and a hefty 75 percent of those dollars are going toward aiding people with chronic conditions – almost half of American adults had at least one chronic condition in 2005.”
Effect on U.S. Business
Healthcare costs continue to spiral upwards for many U.S. companies, and yet it appears they’re not getting the healthcare outcomes for which they’re paying. One may conclude from these studies that the conventional healthcare system is not delivering an acceptable ROI to business. If 75% of healthcare spending is going towards treating chronic conditions, then the system can be said to be a reactive one. A reactive healthcare system treats a patient after an illness or injury occurs rather than taking a proactive approach to prevent an illness or injury from occurring in the first place.
Targeted health, wellness, and injury prevention programs are shown to provide a higher rate of return on investment than utilizing the conventional healthcare model. By diagnosing and treating illness and injury before the condition becomes chronic, companies can significantly reduce their healthcare expenditures.