America's health care crisis may not be the front page news that it was back in 2009 and 2010, but that doesn't mean that costs have come down. On the contrary, the latest data from the Commonwealth Fund’s annual report shows that U.S. health care costs are as out of control as ever, and still rising.
According to Commonwealth's 2011 report, more than one-in-four sick adults were unable to pay or experienced difficulty paying their medical bills in the past year. Nearly half of patients with complex health problems reported not visiting a doctor, not filling a prescription, or not seeking recommended care because they were worried about unaffordable costs or medical debt. That is double the number of people reporting similar problems in the eleven other industrialized nations that were polled, except for Australia, New Zealand, and Germany. Americans were also found to experience the worst health outcomes, despite spending more per capita on health care than any other country: nearly $8,000 per person annually. The next closest country, Norway, spent nearly $3,000 less.
Other data collected by the study reveal some admirable successes. While the American health care system was weighed down by the highest rate of obesity—and consequently three times the average number of diabetes-related amputations—the United States also had the fewest daily smokers of all but Sweden. And despite experiencing the highest number of deaths per capita amenable to health care, Americans also had the best five-year breast cancer survival rate and the most extensive cervical cancer screening program of any industrialized country.