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By Chad Terhune, Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES — Despite having the costliest care, the United States ranks last among 11 industrialized countries on health care quality and access, according to a new report.

The analysis by the Commonwealth Fund published Monday ranked the United Kingdom first overall, even though its per-capita health spending is less than half that of the U.S.

The other top-ranked countries were Switzerland and Sweden. France and Canada were just above the U.S. at the bottom of the rankings.

Researchers said the U.S. was hurt by a lack of access to primary care and inefficiencies in the health care system overall.

They said provisions in the Affordable Care Act may help boost the country’s standing.

“It is disappointing but not surprising that despite our significant investment in health care, the U.S. has continued to lag behind other countries,” said lead author Karen Davis.

“With enactment of the Affordable Care Act, however, we have entered a new era in American healthcare,” she added.

The U.S. spent $8,508 per person on health care in 2011 compared with $3,406 in the United Kingdom.

In addition to high costs, the U.S. fared poorly on several measures. It ranked last among the 11 industrialized countries on infant mortality.

Americans also experienced financial barriers. More than a third of U.S. adults reported skipping a recommended test or treatment because of cost, according to the report.

Forty-percent of U.S. adults who had visited the emergency room said they could have been treated by a regular doctor if one had been available.

The Commonwealth Fund is a private foundation that supports health policy research.

AFP Photo/Rick Gershon

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Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons, a novel and a memoir. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.

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