In the United States, we may have the best healthcare in the world, but only if you are an individual who can afford it, and access it. Unlike all other rich nations, we do not guarantee health care to all of our residents. Even after the implementation of Affordable Care Act, which insured many more, 30 million Americans remain without coverage, resulting in the unnecessary deaths of 30,000 real people each year.
Millions more have inadequate coverage that leaves them financially vulnerable. The U.S. is the only wealthy country where a resident may be forced into bankruptcy for medical expenditures even if insured.
Despite spending more than twice as much as the rest of the industrialized nations (18% of our GDP), the United States performs poorly in comparison on major health indicators such as life expectancy, infant mortality and immunization rates.
The timeliness and quality of care patients receive vary tremendously by socio-economic status. A recent study showed the rate of diabetic amputation to be 10 times higher in Central Los Angeles zip codes than in those in Beverly Hills.
The reason we spend more and get less than the rest of the world is because we have a patchwork system of for-profit payers. Private insurers cause about 30% of each health care dollar to be wasted on shareholder profit, unnecessary administration, sales and marketing and 8-digit CEO salaries. By comparison, Medicare, a public program that covers seniors and the disabled, spends about 2% on administration.