A new study published in the journal Health Affairs explains how different countries deal with healthcare inequality. According to UNICEF, the Netherlands spends less on healthcare per person than the U.S., yet children in the Netherlands are some of the healthiest in the developed world. In contrast, American children are considered some of the unhealthiest.
The study found that American children who could afford to visit doctors were the ones who went more. In the Netherlands, the opposite was true. Poorer children visited the doctor more often and they visited the dentist at the same frequency as richer children.
National surveys from both countries show that the Dutch are twice as likely to visit a doctor and a dentist as American children. The poorest American children under 10-years-old visit the doctor two times a year compared to three times a year for the richest children in the same age group. In the Netherlands, the poorest children under 10-years of age visit the doctor five times a year compared to 3.7 times for the richest children.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that preventative care is not being given to millions of American children, which can lead to more problems down the line when these children become adults.
Dougal Hargreaves, a pediatrician and the study’s lead author, said: “We know healthcare in childhood and adolescence can have an especially big impact, both at the time, and on health outcomes later in life.”
From analyzing the study’s patterns, Hargreaves and his colleagues suggested that the U.S. and the Netherlands are opposites when it comes to health care.
“This study reminds us that we need to continue to look for ways to improve [US] children’s access to health care and to assure that the care they receive is high quality,” wrote Mark Schuster, chief of general paediatrics at Boston Children’s Hospital, in an email statement.
Source for Today’s Article:
“Health gap: In America, rich kids see the doctor more, while in the Netherlands, poor kids do,” South China Morning Post, last updated December 30, 2015; http://www.scmp.com/news/world/article/1896506/health-gap-america-rich-kids-see-doctor-more-while-netherlands-poor-kids, last accessed December 30, 2015.