Published: Wed, March 14, 2018
People | By Leon Thompson

United States healthcare spending 2x as much as other wealthy nations

United States healthcare spending 2x as much as other wealthy nations

The United States spent twice as much on health care than ten other high-income countries in 2016, largely because of the high costs of prescription drugs, administrative overhead and labor, a new study released Tuesday indicates.

Prescription drug prices in the US, for example, were consistently higher than those in any of the other countries, sometimes commanding double the next-highest cost.

Contrary to popular belief, health care utilization, or how many go to the doctor, and social spending, or how much government spent to improve health, did not differ in the US compared to these countries.

The good news is that despite poor overall outcomes, when people are sick, the quality of delivered healthcare is quite high.

Policy expert Dr Ezekiel J. Emanuel, of the University of Pennsylvania, wrote an editorial review that claims high drug prices, administrative costs, as well as the excessive use of scans and surgical procedures are a few of the main reasons why American's spend more on health care than their peer's in Europe.

The study will be published March 13, 2018 in JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association). When the Affordable Care Act was passed, it was hoped that it would help to bring some healthcare costs done.

"In addition, the reasons for these substantially higher costs have been misunderstood: These data suggest that numerous policy efforts in the US have not been truly evidence-based".

Using global data primarily from 2013 to 2016, the researchers compared the US with 10 other high-income countries - the U.K., Canada, Germany, Australia, Japan, Sweden, France, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Switzerland - on approximately 100 metrics that underpin health care spending.

'We already knew the U.S. spends more on health care than other high income countries, ' Dr Jha told Daily Mail Online.

In 2016, while only about 90 percent of the population had healthcare coverage, the US spent about 18 percent of its GDP on health care.

Life expectancy in the 78.8 years, compared to the average of 81.7 years among the countries studied.

But commonly held beliefs for these differences appear at odds with the evidence, the study found.

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This results in United States health costs that, as a percentage of gross domestic product, are almost double that of other nations. Even procedures like a cesarean delivery cost, on average, seven times more in USA than in The Netherlands. "At least compared to peers, we have a pretty similar mix of primary care to specialists", Woskie added.

Belief: The U.S. provides too much inpatient hospital care. Yet, we found that the United States has comparable rates of utilization overall, with lower numbers of physician visits and hospitalizations, ' Dr Jha said.

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

Nor is the quality much lower than in other countries. The U.S. had the shortest life expectancy and highest infant mortality rate of any country included in the analysis, as well as the highest obesity rate. For example, the USA appears to have the best outcomes for those who have heart attacks or strokes, but is below average for avoidable hospitalizations for patients with diabetes and asthma.

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.

Administrative costs of care-activities related to planning, regulating, and managing health systems and services-accounted for 8% of total healthcare costs, compared with a range of 1%-3% for other countries.

The US also spend more money on drugs, with each American spending more than $1,443 a year on pharmaceuticals, while others nations spend between $466 and $939. However, on a per capita basis, the USA spends much more than any other country: $9451 in 2015, compared to Germany's $5267.

Doctors' pay was also much more, with the average salary for a general practice physician in the United States at $218,173, compared to other countries where the range was $86,607-$154,126.

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

Liana Woskie, assistant director of the Harvard Global Health Institute's strategic initiative on quality, was a co-author of the study.

Researchers also pointed out many myths regarding why United States health care is so pricey. Each year, more than 400 faculty members at Harvard Chan School teach 1,000-plus full-time students from around the world and train thousands more through online and executive education courses.

Despite America's higher spending, citizens have worse health outcomes.

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