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The U.S. Healthcare System in International Context:

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Published on Dec 9, 2009

Implications for Reform:
Robert Coulam, Ph.D., Research Professor in Health Care Administration and Director of the Center for Health Policy Research, School of Health Sciences
This session is designed to make some sense of the current health policy debate by looking outside the U.S., to place the performance of the U.S. healthcare system in international context. If healthcare systems of all advanced countries looked the same, we might think that, notwithstanding all the policy differences across different countries, there are some underlying constraints that limit what can be done. As it happens, international comparisons have the opposite result in this case: they show the U.S. system generally does not perform well on cost (high) and access by citizens to the health system (low). Moreover, the US system does not perform notably well on quality. If healthcare reform is the "art of the possible," these international comparisons show that what is possible is remarkably different from the U.S. experience. The question then becomes: what do these comparisons mean for reform? The session will conclude with a discussion of these implications.

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