Health Reform: Insights from Around the World

eAlert 81cc55a8-923e-4888-9bc0-c07573d4cbd4

<p>While most of the health reform debate has focused on ways to strengthen our uniquely American private–public system of financing health care, the debate has also been informed by insights from other countries' health systems, say The Commonwealth Fund's Cathy Schoen, Karen Davis, and Robin Osborn in a <a href="/blog/2009/health-reform-insights-around-world">new blog posting</a>.</p>
<p>Many of the shortcomings of the U.S. health system—pertaining to access, quality, health outcomes, and value—would be addressed by the reform bills now before Congress, the authors say. Referring to a recent Commonwealth Fund survey of primary care physicians in 11 industrialized countries, they point out that costs are less of an obstacle to care elsewhere in the world, since most advanced nations have an insurance coverage system designed to facilitate access to essential services and protect patients against burdensome medical bills. Countries such as Norway, Sweden, and the U.K. have little or no patient cost-sharing for medical expenses, and they cap total financial exposure for the year. </p>
<p>Schoen, Davis, and Osborn also observe that the U.S. stands out for the high prices it pays for care, its weak primary care foundation, limited use of financial incentives to improve quality, and relative lack of investment in comparative effectiveness and health IT. Fortunately, say the authors, our nation's leaders have the opportunity to draw on international and domestic examples of high performance "to put in place the coverage and delivery reforms that our country desperately needs to ensure the health and economic security of current and future generations." </p>