While the United States delivers some of the best medical care in the world, there are major inefficiencies in our system. We have high rates of medical errors, millions without health insurance coverage, and lower utilization of advanced health information technology than most western European nations. Our costs are the highest anywhere, by any measure.
Despite the fact that our federal and state governments pay a large portion of our health care bill, most Americans tend to think of our health care system as predominantly private. We are not, however, the only private health care system. Countries such as Germany and the Netherlands manage to provide universal coverage, while private providers and insurers thrive.
What can we learn about coverage patterns and cost in other systems that might help inform our choices? What traits in other countries’ delivery systems might be instructive? Are lessons from abroad useful to our efforts to improve efficiency and improve the quality of health care in the United States? What are the respective roles of government and the private market in other systems?
This briefing, cosponsored by The Commonwealth Fund, addressed these and related questions.
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