Why Are Healthcare Costs So High?
With the gradual yearly inflation of healthcare costs, who is to blame? According to a recent report from the Commonwealth Fund, the high costs are to be blamed on technology used in the USA as well as the high prices associated.
One of the biggest drivers of the high healthcare costs is the current over-use of expensive testing, imaging and various other technologies. These costs are especially high in comparison to other nations such as Japan, Germany, and Norway. The United States reportedly utilizes far more CAT Scans, PET scans, mammograms and MRIs.
To further complicate matters, the tests used here in the USA cost much more than they do in other countries. Take for instance an MRI costs on average $1,080 here compared to $599 in Germany and $299 in France.
According to the report, “This mix of pervasive healthcare technology and steep prices outlines two potent drivers of U.S. healthcare spending, and a potential explanation for the large share of resources we allocate to healthcare compared to he rest of the globe.”
One thing that isn’t a factor in high healthcare costs is the larger use of services. The United States possesses the lowest doctor visit rates at 3.9 per capita, the shortest duration of hospital stays, and also one of the smallest hospital discharge rates (per 1000) of any of the nations studied in the report.
“It is a common stereotype that Americans receive more healthcare related services than individuals in other nations, but actually we don’t go to see a physician or visit the hospital as often as others,” the author David Squires reports, “The higher prices that we pay for medicine and probably our greater use of higher priced technology are the likely reasons for high healthcare spending in the United States”
Even with all this superior and more expensive technology combined with the higher prices for individual services, the United States still doesn’t necessarily possess better quality healthcare. In 2009, the United States spent almost $8,000 per citizen on health related services. Contrasting this, nations such as Japan spend far less then that, accumulating only $2,500 per person. The report also notes that the U.S. has the best survival rates for both colorectal and breast cancer, but has the largest mortality rates for conditions like diabetes and asthma.