Why is American’s health care so expensive? Well, that is the question the 34-nation Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) seeks to answer with their newly released report. The U.S. healthcare system is more effective at delivering high costs than quality care.
According to the report, the structural defect in our system is an effective government mechanism that acts to keep prices down, says Mark Pearson, head of the OECD health division.
The report states that Americans spend 7,900 per citizen for health care but die earlier than their peers in other industrializes nations. And to make matters more depressing, the nearly eight thousand dollars we spend doesn’t go towards actual care.
Comparatively, Switzerland, which has a similar per capita income and also relies substantially on private health insurance, citizens pay sixty-two percent less than Americans and have stay alive longer by six years on average.
According to the OECD, the problems with America’s health care system are as follows:
- An “underdeveloped” U.S. primary care system is plagued by shortages of family doctors and high rates of avoidable hospital admissions for people with asthma, lung disease, diabetes, hypertension and other common illnesses.
- U.S. life expectancy of 78.2 years ranked 28th – just behind Chile’s and well below the average of 79.5 years among member nations.
- The growth in U.S. life expectancy over the past half century is also below average, gaining only 8.3 years since 1960 compared with an 11.2-year OECD average.
- The United States was ranked fourth from the bottom for premature mortality, which focuses on deaths among younger people.
- Americans have fewer doctors and hospital beds, make fewer doctor visits, go to the hospital less often and stay for shorter lengths of time than about three-quarters of the other OECD countries.
- America is at the top of the cost chart for a number of procedures including caesarean sections, which are almost twice as expensive in the United States.
- Pharmaceuticals also cost about 60 percent more than in a range of European countries.
On a slightly better but particularly misleading note, America leads the world in cancer treatment and survival primarily because of the attention to paid to costly early detection procedures like MRIs and X-rays.