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Pay more, get less: Americans have the worst health among 10 wealthy nations

Adults in the United States — still — have the worst health compared with their counterparts in 10 other wealthy nations despite the fact that America spends far more on medical care than those countries, a new survey finds.

The Commonwealth Fund report released Wednesday also found that American adults are much more likely than people in those other countries to go without health care because of cost.

And U.S. adults were more apt than their counterparts to be frequently stressed out about being able to afford their rent or mortgage, or to pay for healthy meals.

"The U.S. spends more on health care than any other country, but what we get for these significant resources falls short in terms of access to care, affordability and coordination," said Dr. David Blumenthal, president of The Commonwealth Fund.


The report, published online as a Health Affairs Web First article, echoes prior Commonwealth Fund reports that found similar lagging conditions for American health relative to other nations. The countries looked at included Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

In metric after metric, the U.S. performs poorly compared with those other nations, with only several exceptions. For example, 28 percent of American adults reported have multiple chronic conditions — such as arthritis, asthma, diabetes or heart disease.

Canadians adults weren't too far behind, with 22 percent reporting multiple chronic conditions. But no other nation cracked 20 percent of adults with several such conditions.

And 33 percent of American adults said they didn't get recommended care, did not visit a doctor despite being sick or failed to get a drug prescription filled because of the cost.

While 22 percent of Swiss adults reported doing so, again, no other nation had more than 20 percent of adults not getting health care because of money worries. In Germany and the United Kingdom, just 7 percent of adults said they did not get care due to cost.

One bright spot identified for the U.S. was access to specialists. Just 6 percent of American adults reported waiting longer than two months to see a specialist, which was comparable to the rates seen in several other countries.