The United States spends more on health care than 12 other industrialized countries, a new Commonwealth Fund study finds – but that doesn’t mean this country’s care is any better.
The U.S. spent nearly $8,000 per person for health care services in 2009, the study found, confirming that “health care spending in the U.S. dwarfs that found in any other industrialized country.”
The Commonwealth Fund concluded that this country’s high price tag for health care isn’t because of more doctor visits — the U.S., with an average of about four visits per person in 2009, ranked at the bottom for the number of doctor consultations. And it isn’t because of lengthy hospital treatments — the study found the U.S. had shorter hospital stays, as well as a smaller number of hospital beds and discharges.
“It is a common assumption that Americans get more health care services than people in other countries, but in fact, we do not go to the doctor or the hospital as often,” Squires said in a statement accompanying the study.
So what’s causing the U.S.’s cost problem? The Commonwealth Fund points to high prices for medication and medical services, as well as a good deal of use of expensive technology, such as MRIs and CT scans. And at least a third of the American population is obese, a condition that drives up health spending.