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10 February 2013

Broken Health Care in the U.S.

Health Care in the U.S. is obviously broken.

It is expensive

The United States spends much more per-capita on heath care than any other developed country. Not only this, but the rate of increase is greater.

Source: OECD Health Data 2011

It is NOT the best in the world

According to OECD[1], the U.S. ranks 27th in Life Expectancy[2], has the 4th highest infant mortality rate[3], and ranks eighth to last in overall life expectancy[3]. Despite political campaign boasts, the U.S. is NOT the world leader in health care. 
The shortage of family doctors contributes to the poor primary care performance.

United States
OECD Average
Number of Physicians
2.4 per 1000
3.1 per 1000
Doctor Visits
3.9 per capita
6.5 per capita
Average stay in hospital
4.9 days
7.2 days
Source: OECD Health Data 2011

United States
OECD Average
MRI Machines
25.9 per million
12.2 per million
MRI Exams
91.2 per 1000
46.6 per 1000
CT Scanners
34.3 per million
22.8 per million
CT Exams
227.9 per 1000
131.8 per 1000
Knee Replacements
212.5 per 100k
118.4 per 100k
Coronary Angioplasty
377.2 per 100k
187.6 per 100k
Source: OECD Health Data 2011.

Prescription Prices 

Pharmaceutical prices are also higher in the United States than in other OECD countries. A study of the 50 top-selling prescription drugs found that US pharmaceutical prices were at least 60% higher than those in five large European countries in 2007.[4] 
Spending on Public Health and Administration is particularly high – more than two-and-a-half times the average. Administration of the US health system alone accounts for about 7% share of total spending.

The Problem is NOT that Medicare doesn’t pay enough 

Compared to other countries, Medicare pays reasonable rates for procedures. The problem is not that Medicare doesn’t pay, the problem is that medical providers charge too much for the results they provide.

What you can do

As medical costs soar and Federal and state governments capitulate their duty to govern effectively, it is important for individuals to take responsibility to manage their own health care costs, even if they are covered by insurance.

One thing that can be done is research competing providers. One way to compare costs of the same service from different providers in your area is to use the services at NewChoice Health. There you can discover National minimum, maximum and average prices as well as local provider prices for common procedures.


[1] . (Members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development)
Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israƫl, Italy, Japan, Korea, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States

[2] OECD (2012), "Life expectancy at birth, total population", Health: Key Tables from OECD, No. 8. doi: 10.1787/lifexpy-total-table-2012-1-en

[3] OECD (2012), "Infant mortality", Health: Key Tables from OECD, No. 9.
doi: 10.1787/inf-mort-table-2012-1-en

[4] Kanavos, P. and S. Vandoros (2011), Drugs US: are prices too high?, Significance, The Royal Statistical Society, March 2011, pp.15-18.