Despite devoting a large share of its economy to healthcare, the United States of America has the most inequitable healthcare system of any high-income country in the world.
At the beginning of last year, researchers at the Commonwealth Fund began examining healthcare systems in affluent nations such as Canada, Germany, New Zealand and Switzerland. Through their work, researchers noted that America was the only country of the group to not offer universal healthcare coverage. Furthermore, Commonwealth Fund President David Blumenthal points out that health insurance in the United States often does not provide enough protections for Americans to justify the high cost. As a result, many U.S. residents skip out on paying for health insurance.
"In no other country does income inequality so profoundly limit access to care as it does here," Blumenthal told CNN.
"Far too many people cannot afford the care they need and far too many are uninsured, especially compared to other wealthy nations."
Other affluent nations such as the United Kingdom do not face these same issues. Nearly half of low-income U.S. residents told researchers they do not have health insurance because they cannot afford it. In comparison, only 12% of low-income U.K. residents reported such issues. Making matters worse, these financial barriers often disproportionately impact communities of color.
Unfortunately, nearly 19% of Black U.S. residents lived at or below the poverty line in 2019. As a result, paying high premiums for health insurance can often be out of the question for low-income Black families. Fortunately, the Affordable Care Act offered health insurance for nearly three million Black Americans that previously did not have health insurance. Still, 9.7% of Black U.S. residents were left without insurance. In comparison, only 5.4% of white Americans were left without health insurance.
Beyond the financial barriers that typically impact access to healthcare in America, the United States also rated poorly in regards to maternal mortality and infant mortality. Adding on, America rated poorly when examining life expectancy at 60 years old.
"The U.S. has exceptionally poor performance on two other health care outcome measures. Maternal mortality is one: the U.S. rate of 17.4 deaths per 100,000 live births is twice that of France, the country with the next-highest rate," the report stated.
Black mothers and their children typically bear the brunt of these issues. In comparison to white women, the American Medical Association reports that American Indian and Alaska Native women are 2.5 times more likely to suffer a pregnancy-related death. Tragically, Black women are three to four times more likely to suffer a pregnancy-related death when compared to white women. As for Black children, the infant mortality is 10.8 deaths per 1,000 live births. The infant mortality rate for all races is 5.7 deaths per 1,000 live births.
Rounding out the litany of issues presented in the report, the U.S. ranks last in administrative efficiency. U.S. residents often spend a long time dealing with paperwork, duplicative testing and clerical errors.