U.S. a leader in rising health care costs

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Rising health care costs are a problem across the industrialized world, but they are higher and rising faster in the United States than in other industrialized countries.  The Commonwealth Fund, a non-profit foundation which researches ways to improve health care, produced this chart showing the rise in health care costs in 11 leading industrial countries.  Even though we Americans spend more per person than the other 10 countries, these countries have broader coverage than we do.

An estimated 42 percent of Americans last year went without health care they thought they needed because of cost.  This included 68 percent of those without health insurance, and also 31 percent of those who supposedly have adequate health insurance.

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The Commonwealth Fund said that this may change after 2014 with the full implementation of the Affordable Care Act.   Coverage should improve, and insurance companies will have to meet standards.  Cost control is another matter.

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One big problem is medical mistakes, lost or unnecessarily duplicated lab tests or poor communication resulting from lack of a “medical home”—having some one physician who sees you on a regular basis.  This is a universal problem, and worse in France and Germany than in the United States.

Click on New 2011 Survey of Patients executive summary for a short version of the Commonwealth Fund’s report.

Click on New 2011 Survey of Patients full article for a longer version.

Hat tip to the Washington Post’s Wonkblog.

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