The Best

By Ed Maier, Former Andersen Partner

“In 2021, the Commonwealth Institute examined the healthcare systems in 11 high-income countries (Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States). The measurements took into account how easily people can access care, administrative procedures and equity around this care, and the quality of healthcare outcomes. Norway, the Netherlands, and Australia were the countries with the best healthcare. The United States ranked at 11, placing it at the bottom of this list. Key findings: “The top-performing countries overall are Norway, the Netherlands, and Australia. The United States ranks last overall, despite spending far more of its gross domestic product on health care. The U.S. ranks last on access to care, administrative efficiency, equity, and health care outcomes, but second on measures of care process.” (Source: The Commonwealth Fund Report—August 4, 2021.) Separately, “…the Legatum Institute, a London-based think tank, has also evaluated where to find the best healthcare in the world. Its 2023 report includes a “Health pillar” that is based on how healthy a society is and whether people are able to access tools to maintain their health, including healthcare services.” In this particular report of The Best Healthcare Systems in the World in 2023, the United States was ranked 69th out of 104 countries—behind such notables as Slovakia, Croatia, Belarus—to name a few. If you care to, you can spend hours on the Internet reviewing various reports on healthcare, medical care, hospitals, doctors, etc. which will consistently point to the healthcare system in the United States as below par with most of the rest of the world.

I really do not know much about these surveys and reports or how these statistics were gathered. But in this quarter’s newsletter, I would like to briefly share my story and my perspective with you.

By way of background, for those of you who don’t know me, I am a retired partner of the Firm. I am 76 years old and up until recently, I have not been a patient in a hospital since about 1978. I would say I have been blessed with good health.

On the morning of September 18 of this year, my wife and I concluded that the symptoms I was presenting (shortness of breath, accelerated heart rate, etc.) necessitated a call to the local paramedics. I had my first ride in an EMT vehicle and was transported to Baylor Medical Center Centennial in Frisco TX. I won’t go into the details of my medical condition, but for the next twelve days I was regularly prodded, poked, tested and re-tested for a condition which was very serious when first diagnosed. It still is, but with the help of my doctors and nurses, it is coming more under control. I was released from hospital care on September 30 with appropriate follow-up instructions, medicines, etc. to be observed at home.

I would never refer to this experience as an “ordeal”. I never felt like the service I received was anything less than top-of-the-line. It was not the type of service I might expect from a healthcare system that is ranked 69 out of 104 countries in the world.

From the moment the paramedics walked into our home to transport me to the hospital, to the moment the charge nurse helped me get into our car when I was discharged from the hospital twelve days later, I was treated with the highest level of professionalism and service that I could expect. Every time someone came into my room to check my blood count, blood pressure, sugar level, etc., they performed their work in a truly professional and caring manner. Each new person on the team introduced themselves to me when first approaching me and carefully explained what they had to do. Every time someone woke me up in the middle of the night to perform a test or a diagnostic procedure, they were friendly and often good-humored in their approach. Every major procedure that had to be performed—e.g., transfusions, dialysis, scans, etc.—was done after my wife and I were given a thorough preliminary description of what was to be done. The person who would come into my room every day to clean, dust and wipe the floor would always greet me with a smile and a friendly hello—and would not leave the room unless she asked me if there was anything I needed. Even the people manning the kitchen telephone to take my daily meal orders assisted by making sure I was using the correct menu for my condition that day. They would also offer alternatives when an item I selected did not fit my dietary program for that meal. While I might have had cause to worry, on occasion, about the condition of my health, I never had to be concerned about the care and treatment I was receiving.

I had a lot of time to think and read over that twelve-day span. By listening to my doctors and nurses I learned a lot about the things going on inside this shell of my human body. I did not like to hear some of the things that they told me. But, in every instance, they were clear and careful to explain what the situation or condition was and how we were going to deal with it. And, when I was discharged, I came away with a pretty clear understanding and plan of what lies ahead.

I have often said to many of you and many others outside Arthur Andersen, that I had the opportunity in my career to work with some of the smartest, finest, most committed people in the world. And that I worked for a Firm that challenged me and helped me grow as an individual and a professional. I felt the same about the people I met in my recent odyssey through our healthcare system. I am so tired of hearing others tear down our various institutions. I am easily frustrated when I hear criticism of the hard-working people who try, every day, to deliver products or services fairly, accurately and professionally. Our systems are not that bad folks. They are flawed, yes. We make mistakes, yes. We could improve, undoubtedly. But for me, I would still rather be here than Slovakia, Croatia or Belarus—just to name a few.

Thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts. If you have any comments, feel free to write me at With the holiday season approaching soon, if you are looking for a nice, inexpensive holiday gift for someone close to you, go to and pick up my book – Think Straight. Talk Straight.