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US spends far more for health care than 12 industrialized nations, but quality varies
Date:5/2/2012

short lengths of stay for acute care, and few hospital discharges per 1,000 population. On the other hand, U.S. hospital stays were far more expensive than those in other countriesmore than $18,000 per discharge. By comparison, the cost per discharge in Canada was about $13,000, while in Sweden, Australia, New Zealand, France, and Germany it was less than $10,000.

"It is a common assumption that Americans get more health care services than people in other countries, but in fact we do not go to the doctor or the hospital as often," said Squires. "The higher prices we pay for health care and perhaps our greater use of expensive technology are the more likely explanations for high health spending in the U.S. Unfortunately, we do not seem to get better quality for this higher spending."

Prices for the 30 most commonly used prescription drugs were a third higher in the U.S. compared to Canada and Germany, and more than double the amount paid for the same drugs in Australia, France, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. Magnetic imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT) scans were also more expensive in the U.S., and American physicians received the highest fees for primary care office visits and hip replacements.

Health care in the U.S. also seems to involve greater use of expensive technology than in many other countries. The U.S. performed the most MRI and CT exams among countries for which data were available (Japan had the most MRI and CT scanners, but no data was available on the number of exams performed there). Knee replacements were also performed more often in the U.S. than any country except Germanythough hip replacements were not as common as in most of the other study countries.

High spending in the U.S. might be explained, in part, by the nation's high rates of obesity and the associated medical costs. However, at the same time, the U.S. also has a very young population and few smokers relative to the othe
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Contact: Mary Mahon
mm@cmwf.org
212-606-3853
Commonwealth Fund
Source:Eurekalert

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