Fact Checking the Commonwealth Study

The Commonwealth Fund put out yet another report designed to bash the U.S. health care system. One of the claims is that Americans are forced to spend too much out-of-pocket. Yet, this claim isn’t supported by the data. According to the OECD, the average OOP spending as a percent of all health care spending is 20 percent across developed countries — nearly double the U.S. rate of 11.6 percent.


Another claim is that timely access to a physician is easier in other countries.


Yet, one of the characteristics of socialized health care systems is the politics of medicine. Since the vast majority of residents are healthy, government emphasize access to primary care over specialty care. In most countries with socialized medicine it is far easier to see a primary care physician than a specialist.


This graphic illustrates the superior access of specialty care in the United States. It probably understates the access U.S. residents enjoy due to the price controls for government health care programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid. How much better is access to a specialist in the United States compared to other countries? A report on Canada by the Fraser Institute found the average wait to see a specialist across Canada was 17.7 weeks. Moreover, waiting in the United Kingdom should take no longer than 18 weeks, according to the British National Health Service. That’s a far cry from the exaggeratedly short periods in the Commonwealth Fund graphic above.

Comments (11)

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  1. PJ says:

    These reports that try to suggest it’s hard for people to see doctors here in the US as opposed to the UK are positively laughable. Unfortunately, plenty of people believe that.

  2. Devon Herrick says:

    Commonwealth picked the percent of the population that spends more than $1,000 out of pocket. It should also have included the proportion of people who also spent money on insurance premiums and payroll taxes dedicated to health care.

    I agree that the U.S. is higher on total health care spending. But spending a dollar out of pocket is better than spending 20% of payroll on health care and another 35% of income on other safety net programs.

  3. Trent says:

    The amount of misinformation out there concerning healthcare is a serious issue. Though propaganda, the president is slowly getting his way by getting the American people to agree.

    • Lucas says:

      Sounds a bit like a famous German leader

      • Connor says:

        people have made that comparison, but this is a different issue all on its own. Obama is technically responding to the will of the people, its just through misinformation.