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Can Financing Reforms Reduce Costs While Improving Health Care Quality?

Jan 2012
Policy Brief
By  Jeffrey Clemens
With expenditures totaling $2.5 trillion, or $7,500 per person, the United States consumes more health care than any other country in the world. The magnitude of U.S. health spending makes the health sector’s productivity an issue of great importance. Are our health dollars delivering reasonable value, or are there ways to obtain better outcomes at lower cost? Comparisons with other countries raise concerns about the cost-effectiveness of U.S. health care. While other countries spend far less, outcomes in the United States are not obviously better. Detailed analyses find U.S. care delivery to be excellent in some areas, such as care for individuals with cancer, and lagging in others, such as the management of care for diabetics. While it is difficult to rank national health outcomes in a compelling, comprehensive manner, few would read the evidence as placing the United States unambiguously above its peers.