5 Facts About How US Healthcare Lags Behind Other OECD Countries

A near 3 trillion USD sector, the healthcare and medicine sector in the US, has of late been facing a lot of flak for lagging behind other OECD countries in the same domain.OECD stands for Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development; countries like USA, Australia, Germany, Canada, UK, Japan etc. are a part of this organization.


Here are five questions that are being asked of the US healthcare system and how it compares to the healthcare system in other mentioned countries.

  1. Dearth Of General Practitioners

Reasons Why US Healthcare Lags behind OECD Countries

Experts have predicted that USA may wind up with a shortfall of 65,000 general practitioners by the year 2030. Source: Darko Stojanovic via


Most countries have a foundation of a robust primary care system on top of which a sophisticated patient-centric healthcare system can be built.


The USA has an average of 1 general medical practitioner per 3333 people, while the average for other OECD countries is 1 general medicine practitioner for every 800 people.



  1. Lack Of Preventive Care

The care system in the USA is basically a free fund from where hospitals derive money for possibly avoidable and unnecessary surgeries like amputations, adverse drug reactions, etc.A healthcare system should be more driven towards preventive care rather than a one-stop surgical solution for every case. This is evident from the low 90% measles immunization coverage for 1 year olds, falling behind Ghana and Algeria.

  1. Low Ratio Of Number Of General Practitioners Per Person To Total Physicians

USA has a surprising imbalance between the number of general medical practitioners and referral physicians. For every eight practitioners in the US there is only one referral physician, while in other OECD countries the ratio stands at one physician for about four practitioners.

Due to the lack of coordination arising from sheer disparity in numbers, over 30% of medical tests that are ordered end up being repetitive because the provider failed to note that the tests had already been done.About 60% referrals go unscheduled. This gross negligence has led to several errors, medicinal and systematic, claiming lives of an average of about 200 patients each day.

  1. Expensive Treatment

Deficiencies in US Healthcare System

The cost of healthcare in US continues to rise. The aggregate cost was $387.3 billion in 2011, which is 63% higher than that in 1997. Source: Darko Stojanovic via


The per capita expenditure per person in the United States for medical purposes is about USD 5635, almost two and a half times of the average cost in other OECD countries (USD 2820 per capita), as of 2003.This is in spite of both parties pumping in the similar amounts of funding into their medicine sector. Quoting another statistic- Americans spend close to 18000 USD for a hospital stay, while in other OECD countries patients will spend an average of only 6200 USD.

  1. Poor Inclusion Of Citizens In Health Care System

In a grim revelation, about 27% of people in the United States lack a proper insurance plan, forcing them to either pay the steep treatment, accommodation, consultation and follow-up fee or forgo the necessary treatment. In comparison, this figure is just 1% in Denmark, 3% in the UK and 5% in Canada.

There’s a lot of ground to be covered by the US, if they are to reboot their health-care system, and they should do this sooner rather than later, given their massive potential to become the numero uno destination for overseas medical treatment owing to their plentiful resources and man-power.

Recommended for You
Back to Top