The International Federation of Health Plans released its latest report on international health care prices in December. Once again it shows that the reason the US spends so much more on health care than other wealthy countries is our health prices, not differences in health care utilization or quality. Lowering health care and prescription drug prices should be a top policy priority in the US.
Higher health care spending in the US has nothing to do with the amount of time Americans spend in the hospital compared to people in other countries. We do not spend more time in the hospital. And, higher health care spending has nothing to do with the frequency with which we visit the doctor. We do not have more doctors visits. Finally, higher health care spending in the US is not related to the number of health care services we receive. Overall, we do not receive more procedures.
The big difference between health care in the US and health care in other wealthy countries is the prices. The IFHP found that private health insurers pay a median price for health care services that is nearly always higher than the price paid in New Zealand, Australia, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, South Africa, Holland, and the UAE.
In the US, hip and knee replacements cost, on average, more than four times what they cost in Holland. And in the US, bypass surgery costs, on average, more than twice what it costs in every other country surveyed. CT scans and MRIs can cost as much as five times more in other wealthy countries as in the US.
With the exception of the UAE, prescription drug prices for most drugs in the other countries the IFHP surveyed were less than 40 percent of prices in the US. Put differently, we typically pay two and a half times more for prescription drugs than people in other wealthy countries.
Here’s more from Just Care:
- New year brings new and higher drug prices
- Lowering health care costs, drug prices, remain top policy priorities
- Berwick: Medicare for All lowers costs and reduces confusion and paperwork
- 34 million Americans know people who have died because they could not afford needed health care
- To save money on your care, consider using a free health clinic