By Mona Gable, Illustrations by Brian Cronin
The following is excerpted from the October 2009 edition of UCLA Magazine.
Early last year, a study by the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development took a detailed look at the state of health care in the U.S. The results could hardly have been grimmer. Not only do Americans spend far more on health care than other developed countries such as Norway, Australia and Japan — a staggering 16 percent of our GDP — we also fare poorly on a number of important health-related measures, including infant mortality, life expectancy and obesity.
"We have much better evidence since the 1990s that the quality of care is not only not what we thought it was, but even lags behind other developed countries," says Mark Peterson, professor of public policy and political science at UCLA. "People get only about half the recommended treatment for particular conditions. We do terribly in reducing treatable deaths. Even things like hospital infections kill as many as 100,000 people a year."