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U.S. tops the world in health care spending
A report published in the July/August 2005 issue of the journal Health Affairs (www.healthaffairs.org) revealed that Americans spend more on health care than any other country, with expenditures that are 140 percent above the $2,193 per capita spending of the median industrialized country.
Utilizing data provided by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, researchers at Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health reviewed health care spending in 30 countries during the year 2002. They found that U.S. citizens spent an average of $5,267 per capita on health care, which is 53 percent higher than Switzerland, a country that had the second highest per capita health care expenditure of $3,446. Explanations that have been offered for the difference are the waiting lists for certain procedures in some countries and the cost of malpractice litigation in the United States, yet Dr Anderson and colleagues found that the former accounted for only 3 percent of the difference, and the latter was comparable to other major developed nations.
The authors suggest that defensive medicine may be part of the reason for the discrepancy, but conclude, “The two most important reasons for higher U.S. spending appear to be higher incomes and higher medical care prices.”
Lead author Gerald Anderson PhD, who is a professor at Bloomberg School of Medicine’s Department of Health Policy and Management commented, “As in previous years, it comes back to the fact that we are paying much higher prices for health care goods and services in the United States. Paying more is okay if our outcomes were better than other countries. But we are paying more for comparable outcomes.”