Why does the US health care system rank last among peer nations?



According to the Commonwealth Fund, which ranks healthcare systems worldwide, the United States has the worst health care system among peer nations (dollar for dollar).

In a nutshell, the United States

  • spends nearly twice as much as other wealthy nations
  • has the lowest life expectancy and highest suicide rates among those countries
  • has the highest chronic disease burden
  • obesity rates 2X the average of peer countries
  • saw the highest number of hospital admissions from preventable causes
  • had the highest rate of avoidable deaths (250,000 according to Johns Hopkins University)
  • BJE estimates outpatient diagnostic errors at 5.08% (12 million US adults per year)
  • spends on average $1,000 per person on prescription medicines

So why are health outcomes so poor?

  • Americans are conditioned to take a pill/need instant gratification
  • Our healthcare system incentivizes prescriptions and surgery over diet and lifestyle changes
  • Our system manages diseases (obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and mental illness) instead of teaching the patients how to change their diet, improve their exercise and other lifestyle choices (smoking, alcohol, recreational drug use)
  • With increased prescription usage, rising healthcare costs and increased drug complications

What is the answer?  An integrative approach:

  • allopathic medicine for acute/emergency needs and
  • holistic medicine to address chronic conditions.

America needs a mindset change.   What would happen if instead of commercials touting the trendy Rx, with the instruction “Ask your doctor if ____________ is right for you?”, we were prompted to ask:

  • what is in my power to change to restore my body to health?
  • What do I need to eat?
  • What/how will exercise change my health outcomes (mobility, weight, drug need)?
  • Develop a relationship with your doctor and your healthcare practitioner.

Why are these relationships important?   From my own practice, a lady came in with a skin condition and mobility issues.  She had been to see her medical doctor, but had not seen any improvement in her condition.  I looked at the diagnosis, and it did not feel right to me.  I asked her to make some lifestyle changes and to make some dietary changes.  She was not totally convinced that this approach would work, and she was somewhat skeptical that she could do the protocol.   Within three weeks, she could see a difference in her body. Within two months, she was no longer battling any symptoms.   She was thrilled.  At her last follow-up appointment, I reminded her of her hesitancy at the beginning and asked how she was able to make that mindset change.  She looked at me and said “It was you.  You believed I could get well if I did those things.   I trusted you.”   This is why a personal relationship with your doctor, allopathic and/ or holistic is integral to your health.

I have other clients and also family members who have been told by their primary care physicians that their condition is irreversible and they will probably die from it.    One such man lives in fear that his body is not able to resist disease because he heard from his doctor that he would not recover.  Today, his blood work is really good, and the disease label he was given no longer applies.  However, those powerful words, “you will not recover” still haunt him.  We are conditioned to believe ‘authority/professional people” and what they/we say matters.

If you are not hearing positive problem solving answers from your health care professional, it may be time for a new approach.  We must teach people that their bodies can recover.  As a nation, we must teach good nutrition, proper supplementation, and appropriate exercise which will empower the body to recover.   We should not be at the bottom of any list in healthcare outcomes.


Until next time,


Dr. Polly