While the concept of healthcare reform remains a tepid debate, there’s little disagreement the system itself is, if not yet in outright need of a defibrillator, at least heading in that direction, Lipitor in hand. According to the just released 2011 edition of the National Scorecard on U.S. Health Care System Performance, U.S. healthcare is showing “substantial erosion” along with rising costs (stressing families and businesses), significant health delivery variations, and routinely missed preventive opportunities.
It’s no wonder. Built without the essential ingredient of accountability at its core, the U.S. model continues to perpetuate seemingly unchecked cost escalations and health status declines. Across the 42 measures of healthcare delivery the scorecard measures, the U.S. scores 64 out of 100 – a barely passing “D” even on a generous curve. Most concerning are the conclusions:
- Out of 16 nations, the U.S. ranks last when it comes to effectively preventing mortality, disability, disease and hospitalizations.
- About a third of our children (10-17 years) are obese.
- Infant mortality rates are twice as high as those in other countries.
- The U.S. spends twice as much on healthcare compared to several other major industrialized countries (approximating a price tag of $1 for every $5 of national income being spent on healthcare.)
Falling behind (sometimes well behind) important global metrics of success while simultaneously costing us upwards of 20% of our national income is certainly a terse wake-up call. If the system itself is bed ridden, the need to support and positively motivate consumers to navigate their own path toward health engagement, accountability and investment becomes even more essential. Without doing so, health status improvements and cost reduction hopes seem woefully bound to a floundering ship.