Study shows U.S. ranks last in health outcomes

Feb. 6, 2023

The U.S. spends dramatically more on healthcare than other high-income nations but has the worst health outcomes on nearly every metric, a new report shows. Despite the high healthcare spending rate, affordability of healthcare was the top reason Americans gave for skipping or delaying care.

"Americans are living shorter, less-healthy lives because our health system is not working as well as it could be," said report author Munira Gunja, according to CNN. "To catch up with other high-income countries, the administration and Congress would have to expand access to healthcare, act aggressively to control costs, and invest in health equity and social services we know can lead to a healthier population." 

Published by The Commonwealth Fund, the report examines health outcomes in the U.S., compared to other high-income countries in the world such as Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan, South Korea, and the United Kingdom. 

The U.S. was the only country in the study that does not guarantee health coverage. The authors noted that 8.6% of people in the U.S. were uninsured in 2021, and said the country's health system seems "designed to discourage people from using services." People in the U.S. had the fewest annual healthcare visits, compared to other countries, at just four per year. 

Meanwhile, 30% of adults have multiple chronic conditions, such as two or more of the following: asthma or chronic lung disease; cancer; depression, anxiety or another mental health condition; diabetes; heart disease including heart attack; or hypertension/high blood pressure. Australia was the second-highest-ranked country in terms of people with multiple chronic conditions, at 26%. 

The U.S. had the worst rates among 12 peer countries studied for life expectancy, death due to assault, avoidable deaths, infant and maternal mortality, and obesity. 

One of the only metrics in the report in which the U.S. did not have the worst outcomes relative to its peers was in suicide rates. The U.S. ranked third, with 14.1 suicides per 100,000 people. The worst suicide rates were in Japan, with 14.6 suicides per 100,000 people, and in South Korea, with 24.1 suicides per 100,000. 

Medscape release