This past Sunday, the NY Times began a series of articles on the cost of healthcare in the United States compared to the same care in other countries. The results are startling and the reasons behind the discrepancies won't please US consumers. For instance, a colonoscopy in the US costs on average $1,185 while in Switzerland the procedure costs $655.
According to the Times' article, "Whether directly from their wallets or through insurance policies, Americans pay more for almost every interaction with the medical system. They are typically prescribed more expensive procedures and tests than people in other countries, no matter if those nations operate a private or national health system. A list of drug, scan and procedure prices compiled by the International Federation of Health Plans, a global network of health insurers, found that the United States came out the most costly in all 21 categories — and often by a huge margin. . .While the United States medical system is famous for drugs costing hundreds of thousands of dollars and heroic care at the end of life, it turns out that a more significant factor in the nation’s $2.7 trillion annual health care bill may not be the use of extraordinary services, but the high price tag of ordinary ones. “The U.S. just pays providers of health care much more for everything,” said Tom Sackville, chief executive of the health plans federation and a former British health minister.
The lack of transparency and competition in pricing are factors to be considered in the wide variance in healthcare prices. Until something changes, consumers of healthcare will continue to get huge bills for care that in other countries would cost much less.
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