Scoreboard: U.S. Health System Gets a 'D'

ByABC News
September 20, 2006, 4:15 PM

Sept. 20, 2006 — -- A new scorecard from a private foundation shows what the U.S. health care system is doing right and wrong, and it finds more on the minus side than the plus side.

The Commonwealth Fund Commission report, released today, ranks the performance of the U.S. health care system overall against top-performing health systems within the United States and against health care systems of other nations.

On the whole, the outcome looks rather grim. The United States scored a 66 out of a possible 100 points.

Experts said this score reflects a gap between how the United States is doing in delivering medical care and how top health care systems are doing around the world.

This scorecard signals an "urgency for action," said Cathy Schoen, senior vice president for research and evaluation at the Commonwealth Fund.

Some of the findings might seem surprising.

The survey suggested that the problems run deeper than just routine care and screening.

Overall, only half of the Americans hospitalized for heart failure receive written instructions when they leave the hospital, even though at the top U.S. hospitals 87 percent get these home-care instructions. That means that most U.S. hospitals are doing a poor job getting information to their heart failure patients.

Americans also have a hard time obtaining medical care, according to the survey, because more than one-third of adults under 65 have no insurance or are not sufficiently protected from high costs, even though they might have some insurance.