Infographic of the Day: How Bad Is U.S. Health Care?

A bracing graphic summarizing the many failings of the U.S. health-care system.

We all know health care in the U.S. is too expensive. But is it really that bad? Yes.


This graphic by National Geographic is the best we’ve seen at summarizing the three facets of the problem: Cost, results, and access.

If you haven’t seen this sort of graph before, some explanation is in order. On the left are several countries, arranged on an axis showing annual per capita spending on health care. To the right is average life expectancy.

Health care

Thus, the lines between the two axes show a country’s cost of health care, and the health of its citizens. Ideally, you’d like to be sloping up; sloping down, and you’re not getting much for your money.

The U.S.? We don’t even fit on the chart.

Meanwhile, the graphic also gets at the problem of health-care access. The thickness of each line shows how often residents see a doctor. Japan and Czech Republic, for example, seem to make it easy. The U.S., not so much.

[Via National Geographic]

About the author

Cliff is director of product innovation at Fast Company, founding editor of Co.Design, and former design editor at both Fast Company and Wired.