U.S. most expensive, bureaucratic nation in world to obtain healthcare

The United States is the most expensive country in the world for healthcare, with patients getting for their money longer waits to see a doctor and more red tape than other nations, according to a new Commonwealth Fund survey.

The Commonwealth Fund surveyed more than 20,000 people in 11 industrialized countries and found the United States spent more than $8,508 per capita on healthcare. That's 50 percent more than the second-most-expensive country, Norway, which spends $5,669 per capita. U.S. residents also routinely spent $1,000 or more on out-of-pocket care, far more than any other nation.

That cost kept many Americans away from the doctor--nearly 40 percent of those surveyed failed to see a doctor or fill a prescription when they became sick, primarily because they couldn't afford it.

"The U.S. spends more on healthcare than any other country, but what we get for these significant resources falls short in terms of access to care, affordability, and quality," David Blumenthal, M.D., president of the Commonwealth Fund, said in a statement.

The survey findings dovetailed with a recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association indicating that America was falling behind other countries in delivering healthcare of value, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

Along with the extra costs for care, the Commonwealth Fund report found insurance-related administration costs are also much higher in the U.S. compared to other countries. The nation spends $606 per person compared to France, the second most-expensive country, where it costs $277 per person. And nearly a third of Americans said they spent a considerable amount of time dealing with insurance paperwork or disputing a claim--far higher than in other countries.

As a result, 75 percent of the Americans surveyed for the report said the country needs to rebuild the healthcare system, compared to slightly more than half of the Dutch and Swiss surveyed. Both of those nations are a hybrid of private and public insurance with some similarities to the Affordable Care Act.

In an unsigned opinion piece, the New York Times cited the survey for claiming the U.S. healthcare system is shameful, and observed "the reform law, however imperfect, is needed to bring the dysfunctional American healthcare system up to levels already achieved in other advanced nations.

To learn more:
- check out the Commonwealth Fund survey and announcement
- read the New York Times opinion piece

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