Despite familiar rhetoric extolling U.S healthcare as the best in the world the assessment of the World Health Organization (WHO) ranking the world’s health systems appears to provide a very different picture. The U.S. is not ranked in the first 10 or 25 listings but is 37, behind the likes of Oman, Columbia and Greece. Ranking first is France, followed by Italy. The United Kingdom is graded 18 and Canada is 30, The World Health Organization's ranking of the world's health systems.
A thorough explanation of the basis and findings of the rankings can be found online in the World Health Report, WHO | World Health Organization Assesses the World's Health Systems. Basically, 5 performance indicators are used to evaluate health care in 191 member states.
The 5 performance indicators are as follows: “overall level of population health; health inequalities (or disparities) within the population; overall level of health system responsiveness (a combination of patient satisfaction and how well the system acts); distribution of responsiveness within the population (how well people of varying economic status find that they are served by the health system); and the distribution of the health system's financial burden within the population (who pays the costs).”
The effectiveness of health care systems appears to be measured by objectives providing health care insurance to the largest percentage of the population as possible, with maximum utilization of health care resources.
While the U.S. spends more as a measure of gross domestic product than any other country on health care the result does not appear to translate into effectiveness, though health care in the U.S. is now undergoing major change, as exemplified by the Affordable Care Act (also known as “Obamacare”) pending court and State decisions.
An article by the CATO Institute also takes issue with the methodology and findings of the report, WHO's Fooling Who? The World Health Organization's Problematic Ranking of Health Care Systems | Cato Institute.
Nevertheless health care issues have given rise to finding new ways of coping and to a huge potential expansion of Medicaid on the horizon (more on this to come).