The British public overwhelmingly agree that the NHS is one of the best healthcare systems in the developed world, while Americans narrowly tend to say that the American system is one of the worst
Last week the Commonwealth Fund, a healthcare research group based in New York City, published an assessment of eleven healthcare systems in the developed world. The report found that the British NHS is the best, while the American healthcare system was the worst – with the US even being beaten by the NHS when it comes to waiting times for medical care. The US does, however, perform well when it comes to the effectiveness of medical care, coming third behind the UK and New Zealand. America is number one when it comes to one thing, though: cost. In 2011 $8,508 was spent on each American's healthcare compared to only $3,405 per person in the UK.
The latest research from YouGov shows that Americans narrowly tend to agree (35%) that the American system is one of the worst in the developed world, with only 27% of the country saying that the system is one of the best. In Britain, however, the public overwhelmingly (74%) believes that the NHS is one of the best in the developed world. Only 18% of the British public think that the NHS is even average compared to other systems, and a tiny 4% say the NHS is one of the worst systems.
As ever in the United States there is a noticeable partisan divide on this issue, in stark contrast to Britain, where right-wing Conservative voters are not noticeably more or less likely than left-wing Labour voters to think the NHS is one of the best healthcare systems. Republicans (40%) are much more likely than Independents or Democrats to say that the US healthcare system is one of the best in the developed world. Democrats (42%) are the most likely to say it's average, while Independents (38%) are particularly likely to say that it's one of the worst.
For ideological supporters of either public or private healthcare systems, the report does pose a problem. The British and Canadian systems of public ownership and centralized administration are very similar, as are the Swiss and American systems of private health insurance and independent hospitals and doctors. Yet the two best systems in the survey are the British and Swiss systems, while the Canadian system shares many of the same flaws as the American medical system.