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The average American spent over $7,900 a year for health care in 2009, making health care costs in the United States the most expensive of the 34 countries surveyed by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
The OECD surveyed its 34 members and found that, despite the hefty health care price tag, Americans still lag behind their industrialized peers in life expectancy, infant mortality, and obesity rates. Life expectancy in the United States is 78.2 years, whereas the OECD average is 79.5 years while obesity rates increased dramatically, more than doubling in less than thirty years. And there are 6.5 deaths per 1,000 live births, which is well above the OECD average of 4.4.
In an interview with Public Broadcasting Service, Matthias Rumpf from the OECD sought to explain why American health care costs are above the OECD average. According to Rumpf, Americans may be spending more on health care because:
The price of procedures: “The same set of hospital interventions (including the normal delivery of a baby, a Caesarean section, a hip or knee replacement, etc.) cost 60 percent more in the United States than in other countries.”
- Pharmaceuticals cost more: “50 high-selling pharmaceuticals cost 60 percent more in the United States than in Europe.”
- Expensive diagnostic tests: “The United States also uses a lot of diagnostic tests, such as MRI and CIT scans.”
- Unnecessary procedures: “The United States…performs a lot of interventions where it is not always clear-cut whether the procedure is necessary or not.”
Mathias says that improving the primary care system (family physicians and clinics) in the United States could greatly affect how much Americans spend on healthcare. Read more…