Study: Quality of U.S. healthcare lags despite high spending

While American healthcare is perhaps the most expensive on the planet, we aren't getting as much as we should for our investment, according to a new study by the Commonwealth Fund. The report notes that while the U.S. spends more than twice as much on each person compared with most other industrialized nations, we're in last place when it comes to preventing deaths through appropriate medical care. Meanwhile, access to care has gotten worse since the group's first report card in 2006, the report concludes.

Over the last two years, the number of people without adequate health insurance his risen to 75 million, researchers say. Even for those who do have access to care, the cost and quality of such services vary dramatically. At the same time, we spend more of our healthcare dollars on administrative costs, or about 7.5 percent, than other countries, the report notes. (Germany and Switzerland, for example, spend 5 percent.)

What's more, when measured on 37 metrics chosen by the group, care hasn't improved much since the last report, while other countries have made significant strides, researchers said. For example, the U.S. has cut the number of preventable deaths for people under age 75 to 110 for every 100,000 people, compared with 115 deaths five years earlier, but it still ranks last in preventable mortality--falling just below Ireland and Portugal.

To learn more about this study:
- read this piece in the New York Times