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National Institute for Health Insurance Reform

One little guy - one big goal - fix a broken system. mailto:rereason@hotmail.com

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

High Cost of Medical Care Caused by High Prices

Higher prices, not malpractice insurance or greater access to healthcare are what cause people in the US have the highest healthcare bills in the world. At least, that's the skinny on a study published in the July-August 2005 issue of the journal Health Affairs.

The researchers looked at the components of the 140% differential between the median cost in developed countries and the US. That is, the median (average) cost of healthcare in the US exceeds other developed countries by about 140%.

A mere 9% was the highest estimate of the contribution of "defensive medicine" (ordering tests and procedures out of fear of lawsuits rather than for medical reasons). This leaves another 131% of the cost differential unaccounted for.

Services with waiting lists in other countries account for about 3% of US spending. In fact, Americans actually have fewer hospital beds, physicians, nurses, magnetic resonance imaging, and computed tomography scans available per capita than in many other countries.

The study showed that Americans simply pay more for medicines, visits to doctor's offices, hospital stays, lab tests and the myriad other services offered by modern medicine.

Just the facts folks. The full study is available by subscription at Healthcare Management. (Sorry, no link available here).