Bioethics Blogs

Patients Abandoned—Who is to blame?

The vast majority of developed nations in the world provide universal healthcare coverage for its citizens. The only developed nations that do not are “…a few still-troubled Balkan states, the Soviet-style autocracy of Belarus, and the U.S. of A., the richest nation in the world.” 

Yet the United States (US) has the most expensive healthcare system in the world, by far—there really isn’t a close second—spending just under 18% of GPD and around $8,500.00 per person on healthcare. One might assume that given that type of expense, we would be getting a lot more than other countries in return for our investment. According to the research provided by Mirror, Mirror, from the Commonwealth Fund, the US sadly underperforms and often fails relative to other developed countries on major measures of performance. 

Among the 11 developed countries studied in this report, the US rank dead last overall. It’s highest two rankings of 3 and 4 out of 11 were in effective care and patient-centered care, respectively. It ranked last in four areas related to cost, efficiency, equity, and healthy lives. Significantly, these are healthcare outcome measures that require systemic organization and planning, and predicated on the moral and economic assumption of universal healthcare coverage. This seems like a matter of common, moral sense to most people in the world and to many of in the US. What is expanding healthcare coverage so hard in the US?

I have written in previous blogs about the ideological divide in the US around healthcare, so I won’t belabor these points again.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.