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U.S. Ranks Low on Efficiency of Health Care Spending

Update Date: Dec 12, 2013 04:06 PM EST

Researchers from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) Fielding School of Public Health and McGill University from Montreal, Canada ranked 27 industrialized nations on their efficiency in health care spending. The team defined efficient health care spending as being effective in spending money in health care that contributed to extending people's life expectancy. According to the list, the United States ranked in at number 22 overall.

"Out of the 27 high-income nations we studied, the United States ranks 25th when it comes to reducing women's deaths," said Dr. Jody Heymann, senior author of the study and dean of the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health. "The country's efficiency of investments in reducing men's deaths is only slightly better, ranking 18th."

For this list, the researchers borrowed data on the 27 nations from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which gathered information from 1991 to 2007. This database is the first-known research study to look into how industrialized nations spend money on health care for both genders.

"While there are large differences in the efficiency of health spending across countries, men have experienced greater life expectancy gains than women per health dollar spent within nearly every country," said Douglas Barthold, the study's first author and a doctoral candidate in the department of economics at McGill University.

The researchers reported that within the U.S., for every 100 dollars that was put into health care, people only gained around less than half a month in life expectancy. In Germany, on the other hand, every hundred dollars spent in health care translated to roughly four additional months in life expectancy. The disparities between countries and between genders suggest that countries on the lower end of the list, such as the U.S. need to revise their health care spending plans to yield more positive results.

The study was published on line in the American Journal of Public Health, under the section titled, "First Look."

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