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U.S. Falls Short in New Health Care Study

Christian Worstell

by Christian Worstell | Published April 22, 2021 | Reviewed by John Krahnert

A recent study emphasized something that many Americans may already know: the U.S. health care system has plenty of room for improvement.

The study by the Commonwealth Fund ranked the health care systems of 11 affluent nations measured across five parameters. The U.S. finished dead last overall, including last-place finishes in three of the five categories and a 10th-place finish in another.

Doctors consulting in hallway

How U.S. Health Care Compares to the Rest of the World

The United Kingdom ranked first overall among the 11 nations studied. Joining the study were Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland.

Each nation was ranked for access to care, administrative efficiency, equity, care process and care outcomes. The U.S. finished last in access to care, equity and care outcomes and placed 10th in administrative efficiency. The United States’ best score was a fifth-place finish in care process.

Australia came in second place overall followed by the Netherlands, New Zealand and Norway. Joining the U.S. at the bottom of the rankings was Canada in ninth place and France in 10th.

Other U.S. Health Care Trends

The study offered only a small glimpse into the U.S. health care system as it compares to other civilized nations. Below are some additional findings according to a 2016 report from the Department for Professional Employees.

  • The U.S. spends far more health care money per person than any of the 34 countries included in the report. The U.S. spends an average of $8,713 per person, or 16.4 percent of the Gross Domestic Product. The next highest spenders were the Netherlands and Switzerland, who each spent 11.1 percent of their respective GDP’s.
  • The U.S. has fewer physicians per capita than most other countries in the study. As of 2013, there were just 2.6 physicians per 1,000 people in the U.S., compared to the study average of 3.3.

More than 10 percent of Americans do not have any health insurance at all, a number that is expected to rise sharply if the proposed Senate health care bill passes into law.

Learn more about health care in America by reading these featured articles:



Department for Professional Employees:

The Commonwealth Fund:


Christian Worstell is a health care and policy writer for He has written hundreds of articles helping people better understand their Medicare coverage options.

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