The U.S. Ranks Last in Healthcare Equity and Affordability Among High-Income Nations A recent Commonwealth Fund study ranked 11 high-income countries in providing affordable, equitably accessible, high-quality healthcare. While Norway, the Netherlands, and Australia topped the list overall, the U.S. health system came in the last place. According to the study, Americans in every income bracket struggle to afford the healthcare they need, compared to people in other high-income nations. Unfortunately, this study is yet another reminder that the current healthcare system does not work for most Americans. Lower-income families are incredibly disadvantaged in comparison to citizens of other countries. The Commonwealth Fund made several recommendations for providing access to better care and expanding more equitable health outcomes. They include expanding coverage, strengthening primary care, and reducing administrative burden. Expanding Coverage The study found that the countries with the highest performing healthcare systems have universal coverage with consumer protections that allow citizens to get the necessary healthcare at little or no cost. While universal coverage in the U.S. seems unlikely, options like direct primary care (DPC) offer low-cost healthcare memberships available nationwide. Strengthen Primary Care The study noted that accessible primary care that is both affordable and timely keeps citizens healthier and lowers costs in the long run. With DPC, unlimited access to a primary care provider encourages better health outcomes and less healthcare spending by allowing members to be proactive about their health. In general, when conditions are detected early, they can be treated at a lower cost and prevent health from deteriorating to an unmanageable state. Reduce Administrative Burden Healthcare providers who deal with third-party payers, like insurance companies, lament the constant paperwork and administrative complexities required by the system. One of the many reasons doctors with direct primary care practices enjoy the DPC model is they can devote the time they used to spend on administrative tasks to their patients. Direct primary care is different from insurance because there are no claims generated. That means lower costs for patients and employers and less paperwork for the physicians. Unless some significant changes occur, the inequality of the U.S. healthcare system will continue to deepen. Experts hope the study encourages U.S. leaders to adopt measures that work in other high-income nations. With all its resources, America should create a quality healthcare system that is easily accessible and more affordable for all. Direct primary care is a solution many are turning to because it can be accessed nationwide—in person or through virtual visits. Members get unlimited primary care visits for little or no copay, and memberships often include discounts on prescriptions and other perks. For more information on how DPC can make healthcare more affordable and accessible, contact Healthcare2U.