The Promised Land if you’re Chronically Ill

The Netherlands!

According to the latest Health Affairs web issue, a Commonwealth Fund study of seven industrialized nations reveals — once again — that the US is dead last when it comes to quality and cost, particularly as it relates to caring for people with chronic conditions: diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, depression, etc.

The US spends the most ($7k per capita versus about $3k), and in spite of that more than half (54%) of patients end up skipping drugs, doctors visits, etc. because it’s too darned expensive. Patients in the US are least likely to have a regular doctor, among the least able to see a doctor the same day when sick, and more likely to report that recommended treatments were unhelpful or that medical care was poorly organized.

Meanwhile, other countries, like the Netherlands, Canada, the UK or France, place strong emphasis on medical homes and chronic disease maintenance and don’t require any co-pays, co-insurance for the maintenance of these conditions. In Germany, coinsurance is limited to 1% to 2% of income.

While there’s quicker access to specialists in the US, the same can be said of the Netherlands, where requests to see a specialist are usually met in fewer than four weeks.

Here’s a NY Times editorial on it.

In the meantime, diabetes cost the US $217.5 billion in 2007, according to the National Diabetes Economic Barometer study, by the Lewin Group. Perhaps other models worth a view.

Health Access California promotes quality, affordable health care for all Californians.
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