American Health Spending Double Other High-Income Countries


The U.S. spends nearly 20 percent of its gross domestic product on healthcare -- nearly twice as much as places like Australia and Switzerland -- yet our life expectancy is lower and infant mortality rates are higher.

According to researchers in JAMA, Americans use roughly the same amount of health services as people in other high-income nations, but prices are steeper for drugs, medical devices, salaries and administrative costs.

“We have this issue here in the U.S. where the majority of the healthcare delivery system relies on the taxpayer and consumer to finance not only research and development, but also their profit margins and businesses in general,” says Seth Denson, consultant and strategist with GDP Advisors.

Life expectancy in the U.S. is 78.8 -- two years lower than other affluent nations.  Our infant mortality rate of nearly six per 1,000 births is almost twice as high.

We also spend an average $1,400 per person on drugs, compared to just $750 in other countries.

“When somebody goes into the emergency room it's not like they're given a menu of services they're going to have rendered with pricing, they don't know until after they have the services dones, but what they are provided with is a form that says I'm going to be responsible for these charges,” says Denson.

He says costs will continue to rise unless the U.S. shifts focus to an outcome-based system rather than tests and procedures.

“What I'm hopeful to see soon is a Congress that rather than just wanting to win the argument or the day, really wants to impact change, and unfortunately if we don't get to that place very quickly there won't be many options left other than a government takeover.”

That may be easier said than done when faced with lobbyists representing both hospitals and drug companies.


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