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The International Federal of Health Plans Price Report

By March 29, 2013Commentary

Why do we spend more per capita on health care than most other developed countries?  A big part of the answer is unit prices, a factor demonstrated again in the 2012 version of the International Federation of Health Plans comparison of prices report.   (IFHP Report)   The countries are Canada, Switzerland, the Netherlands, France, England, New Zealand, Australia, Spain, South Africa and Chile.  Some examples include for an angiogram, the low price is $35 in Canada, the US is the high with an average of $914, about two and half times the next highest of $378 in Chile.  One common CT scan, for the head, ranges from $82 in Argentina to an average of $566 in the US.  Hospital cost per day averages $4287 in the US, compared to the low of $429 in Argentina and the next highest cost of $1472 in Australia.  A normal delivery is $7262 in the US, not that much higher than Australia at $6846, but much higher than Argentina at $1188 or South Africa at $2035.  A knee replacement in the US is an average $25,637, with the cost in Argentina being $3192 and in Spain and the UK about $7800.  A routine physician office visit is $10 in Argentina, $30 in Canada, $38 in Chile and $95 in the US.  Drugs and diagnostics show a similar pattern.  Now these are not adjusted for the overall wealth, purchasing power or inflation of a country, nor are they quality or health status adjusted.  US hospital costs could be higher because we actually do a very good job of keeping all but the most intensive cases out of the hospital, which means per case and per day costs will be more.  But even if those adjustments were made, it is clear that the US just pays a lot more for the same unit of service.

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