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Analysis Finds U.S. Health Care Spending Higher Than Most Other Countries

Despite higher spending, the U.S. has worse outcomes

U.S. health care spending far exceeds that of other high-income countries, according to a report released by the Commonwealth Fund. The analysis examined 13 high-income countries on overall health spending, prices, use of medical services, and health outcomes.

As noted by CNBC, the findings indicate that despite spending well in excess of the rate of any of those other countries in 2013, the United States achieved worse outcomes when it comes to rates of chronic conditions, obesity, and infant mortality.

 The report also noted that "despite spending more on health care, Americans have fewer hospital and physician visits" than most of the other countries. However, "Americans appear to be greater consumers of medical technology," which includes diagnostic imaging like MRIs and CT scans as well as pharmaceuticals.

The Commonwealth Fund report said that pharmaceuticals as well as health services were more expensive in the United States than in other countries. Heart bypass in the U.S. cost $75,345 on average, compared to $42,130 in Australia, the second-highest amount among the other countries. An appendectomy in the U.S. cost an average of $13,910, compared to $9,845 in Switzerland, which had the second-highest average.

"Time and again, we see evidence that the amount of money we spend on health care in this country is not gaining us comparable health benefits," said Dr. David Blumenthal, president of the Commonwealth Fund. "We have to look at the root causes of this disconnect and invest our health care dollars in ways that will allow us to live longer while enjoying better health and greater productivity."

Source: CNBC, October 8, 2015; The Commonwealth Fund, October 8, 2015.

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