What's behind high United States health care costs

Americans spend more on health care than any other wealthy country new research reveals

Americans spend more on health care than any other wealthy country new research reveals

A sweeping new study of health care expenditures found that the United States spends nearly twice as much on health care as 10 other wealthy countries.

US spending was also higher for imaging and for numerous most common medical procedures like knee replacements, surgical cesarean births, and surgeries to fix or unclog blood vessels.

However, a co-author of the new study said those arguments ignore the "800-pound gorilla": sky-high prices everywhere.

"There's no doubt that administrative complexity and higher drug prices both matter - as do higher prices for pretty much everything in US healthcare", said lead study author Irene Papanicolas of the London School of Economics and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston. "The U.S. has figured out how to do the worst of both".

For the study, Dr Jha and her colleagues examined global data collected between 2013 and 2016 to compare the United States with 10 other high-income countries, including Canada, Germany, Australia, Japan, Sweden, Denmark, The UK, Switzerland and the Netherlands on key metrics that contribute to healthcare costs.

It found that the United States spent about twice as much per person on health care, an investment that produced the shortest life spans and the highest rate of infant deaths. The majority of the data came from global organizations, such as the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Despite beliefs to the contrary, "the USA has lower rates of physician visits and days spent in the hospital than other nations", said the report. In the USA, the average salary was $218,173. However, on a per capita basis, the U.S. spends much more than any other country: $9451 in 2015, compared to Germany's $5267.

The US spends about three times more on healthcare, per capita, than the UK.

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The main problem, researchers say, is that most policies regarding health care have focused on utilization. Other nations spend between 1%-3% to administer their health plans.

"As the USA continues to struggle with high healthcare spending, it is critical that we make progress on curtailing these costs".

Health care disbursement considered for 17.8% of the USA economy in 2016, contrast to a commonplace of 11.5% in the 11 high-income countries. Other countries' spending ranged from a low of 9.6 percent of GDP in Australia to a high of 12.4 percent of GDP in Switzerland.

At the same time, America often had the worst population health outcomes, and worst overall health coverage.

Despite the country's massive spending for healthcare, life expectancy for US residents is shorter, obesity rates are higher, and maternal and infant death rates are also higher.

Despite the money poured into the USA health care system, however, Americans aren't healthier than people in other countries - just the opposite, in fact. The US ranked last. Americans use roughly the same amount of health services as people in other affluent nations, the study found.

Jha said whether the United States moves toward more private healthcare, as advocated by Republicans, or to single-payer healthcare, as advocated by liberal Democrats, price tags on all American health services need to be addressed.

"Most countries get to lower prices one of two ways: they either have a very strong price setter, usually a government agency, or more efficient markets", he said. "We're fighting over all sorts of other things", he said.

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