Healthcare Technology Featured Article

February 04, 2013

Americans Have the World's Most Expensive Healthcare, Not the Best

Healthcare in the United States costs more than it does anywhere else in the world, but Americans aren’t necessarily seeing better outcomes.

Wake Forest University professor of economics and health policy, Michael Lawlor, released a statement yesterday saying that healthcare in the U.S. displays not only the highest but also the most rapidly advancing expenditures of any other country. He also stated that the Affordable Care Act, while expanding access to healthcare, does not do enough to address rising costs.

Medical inflation in the U.S. has slowed since the recession of 2008, but medical expenses are consuming a larger and larger share of household budgets. Despite the recession, medical prices have risen faster than prices in any other product or service category.

Lawlor uses life expectancy as an indicator of healthcare quality. Japan has an average life expectancy of 83 years, and Germany has an average life expectancy of 80.5 years. The U.S. falls under 80 at about 78.7 years.

“Average American consumers, even if covered, do not get a greater quantity of healthcare services or even more convenience for the high cost they pay for healthcare compared to the average developed country,” Lawlor pointed out. “They simply pay more for each unit of that quantity.”

In September 2012, the Institute of Medicine issued a report stating that the healthcare system had wasted $750 billion in 2009. The money, which accounted for 30 percent of all healthcare expenditures, was lost to fraud, administrative costs and unnecessary procedures.

Furthermore, the Institute stated that 75,000 people who died in 2005 would have lived if they’d received the quality of care that is available in the states with the highest rated medical systems.

“The threats to Americans' health and economic security are clear and compelling, and it's time to get all hands on deck," says Mark Smith, who was chairman of the Institute’s panel. Smith also serves as president and CEO of the California Healthcare Foundation.

“Our healthcare system lags in its ability to adapt, affordably meet patients' needs and consistently achieve better outcomes.”

Edited by Allison Boccamazzo

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