Washington – Business Roundtable, an association of chief executive officers whose companies provide health care for more than 35 million Americans, today released its second annual Health Care Value Comparability Study, which shows that the United States is gaining ground on international competitors in terms of health system value (cost and performance) as of 2007, the most recent year for which data is available. Advances in quality – particularly reducing hospital errors – drove the overall improvement.
The improvements in health system quality follow a series of hospital safety initiatives led by the Leapfrog Group, which comprises large U.S. employers, government and health industry organizations; the results demonstrate the potential impact of focused, coordinated efforts. In addition, prior successful efforts to lower rates of smoking in the United States – 15 percent of the U.S. population smokes as opposed to 23 percent of the population among the competitors examined (Canada, Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom and France – the “G-5” group) – contributed to American competitiveness in preventive care.
“This study is an important tool as business and government work together to improve the health care system,” said Larry Burton, Executive Director of Business Roundtable. “The improvements in quality evidenced by the most recent data illustrate that partnership and targeted programs have the potential to effect real change.”
One area in need of attention, according to the study, is obesity; 75 percent of Americans are overweight or obese, compared to 51% of people in the G-5 countries. While the incidence of overweight and obesity rose in the G-5 over the five years studied, it rose even more quickly in the United States.
"We must continue to build on this gain in the global competitiveness of our health system by focusing on outstanding challenges, which will not only improve Americans’ quality of life, but will help reduce system costs as well,” added Mr. Burton. “Many companies have taken the first step by creating wellness programs that are already improving workers’ health and saving them money. These programs could not come at a more critical time as high health care costs are straining the budgets of American families and inhibiting job creation.”
In fact, even as quality has improved, high health care costs have continued to hamper American competitiveness. The study found that after adjusting for our higher GDP, the United States spends more than $6,284 per capita on health care compared with the G-5’s $2,968 average. This means that for every dollar we spend in the United States on health care, the G-5 countries spend just 47 cents.
According to the second annual Health Care Value Index, a specific metric of the overall study that measured the value of several nations’ health care systems, the United States spends much more than our competitors to achieve a similar level of health and quality of care. On a weighted scale, the United States gained 3.4 percentage points over four years in its value score compared to the G-5 and finished 2007 trailing the G-5 by 20.8 percent. At our current rate of improvement, it will take more than 20 years for the United States to pull even with the G-5.
About the Health Care Value Comparability Study
For the second annual Business Roundtable Health Care Value Comparability Study, health value specialist Arnold Milstein, MD, convened an expert panel of leading health economists, health service researchers and clinicians on behalf of Mercer to analyze the data and guide and refine the study. The study used a standardized scale that weighted five national health system performance measures – including prevalence of daily smoking, prevalence of obesity, blood pressure control, safety of inpatient care and healthy life expectancy. It also included one spending measure – GDP-adjusted per capita health care spending, which encompasses government health care spending financed through taxes paid by employers and employees in addition to employee and employer spending. It compares the United States with a set of five of the wealthiest large U.S. trading partners, the “G-5 group” (Canada, Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom and France).For additional details on the methodology, visit www.brt.org.
The data in this year’s Health Care Value Comparability Study pre-dates passage of the Affordable Care Act. This year’s study objectively compares year-over-year statistics ending in 2007 and in no way should be interpreted as analysis of the impact of the reform bill.