U.S. Leads Industrialized Nations In Health Care Costs, Falls Behind In Quality: Study

by Ben Hoffman

Health care in America costs more than in other industrialized nation and we aren’t even getting the world’s best care for our dollars, according to a new study.

The United States spent $7,960 per capita on health care in 2009, the most of 13 industrialized nations in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, reports the Commonwealth Fund, a research institution. That’s almost three times the amount spent in Japan, which has the lowest expenses of the countries reviewed.

Americans pay the highest prices for physician visits, hospital treatments and prescription drugs and get expensive diagnostic tests like MRIs at a higher-than-average rate. More Americans are obese, too, though the nation’s population is younger than all the other countries but New Zealand and is the least likely to smoke cigarettes than people anywhere but Sweden, according to the report.

Escalating prices for health care and high use of potentially wasteful, inefficient and unnecessary medical services are the main reasons for the rapidly escalating cost of health insurance, the growing ranks of the uninsured and the fiscal burdens of Medicare and Medicaid. Big price tags also lead Americans, even those with health insurance, to go without care they need.

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