Is Patient-Centered Medicine Bad For Overall Health Care Quality?

2010-06-26 | |
Last updated: 2010-06-26

Health care gets a reasonable share of media coverage in countries like Canada, Australia and the UK where governments manage the system and are ultimately accountable to the population. However, in the US, the level of national media coverage has risen significantly since the start of the debates and political battles associated with the health reform bill that was ultimately passed there roughly two months ago. In the latest news, a study from The Commonwealth Fund ranked the health care systems of a number of countries.

Although the placement of the US in last position amongst this list of 7 countries received considerable media attention in the US and abroad, there are a number of other important observations that can be made and questions that arise from the results of this study. Some of the most interesting come from observing the individual rankings of the two laggards within the study, namely Canada and US, because of their very different health care systems.

Comparing Two Very Different Forms Of Healthcare

In Canada, the health care system is socialized, is completely supported by tax dollars, and provides care to the entire population. The Federal government sets standards and strategy and provides some funding but the provinces administer and deliver the health care services. To over simplify, a tenet of the health care system in Canada is about providing security and equity of access.

In contrast, the health system in the US is based on a mix of private health insurance, public health coverage for some eligible citizens, not-for-profit health providers, private health providers and some government assistance for those at the bottom of the financial spectrum. State governments have been largely responsible for health strategy and regulation of deliver. The system is not a centrally organized health care system. To over simplify once more, the tenets of the US health care system are freedom of choice and ability to access the best care one can personally afford.

Given these differences in implementation, it was interesting to see both scoring so poorly in comparison to the other countries. Quite clearly neither of these systems is serving their respective populations as well as they could.

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Category: General Health, Healthcare Politics

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