Mark Pearson is the head of the health division at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and he testified before a Senate Committee in September on how US health care compares to other OECD members (a total of 30, mostly developed countries).
He revealed in his testimony that US health care is very strong in cancer treatment but lags far behind in treating two very common chronic conditions: diabetes and asthma.
Taking the example of breast cancer, patients have the highest chances of survival in 5 years in the US (90.5%), followed by Canada, Japan, and France. All these countries have 5-year survival rates for breast cancer above the OECD average of 81%. In colorectal cancer, US ranks third after Japan and Iceland.
However, the US ranks quite low when it comes to diabetes and asthma. Lower limb amputations due to diabetes is very common in the US at 36 amputations per 100,000 people. This is more than twice the OECD average of 15. On top of the rankings are Austria (7), South Korea (8), and the UK (9). Hospitalization due to diabetes complications is 57 per 100,000 in the US, again more than double the OECD average of 21. The Netherlands has an incidence of 8.
According to Pearson (Source: MarketWatch Blog):
“Other countries are managing to pick up diabetes earlier, avoiding lower-limb amputations, preventing obesity even. All these things the [U.S.] health system could do something about if it was structured differently.”
Asthma management is also another field where the US seems to lag behind. US hospitalization due to asthmas is highest at 120 per 100,000 compared to the OECD average of 51.
Management of stroke and heart disease in the US is about average compared to other OECD countries.
Pearson’s testimony summarizes:
The United States stands out as performing very well in the area of cancer care, achieving higher rates of screening and survival from different types of cancer than most other OECD countries. At the same time, many other countries, such as the United Kingdom and Canada, are doing much better than the United States in providing good primary care to their population, thereby reducing the need for costly hospital care for chronic conditions such as asthma or complications from diabetes which should normally be managed outside hospitals.
Coming next in Battling Health Care: More about Pearson’s testimony (Title: Disparities in health expenditure across OECD countries: Why does the United States spend so much more than other countries?)