Americans are spending double what other high income nations are spending on health care, but the higher cost isn’t translating into better results. According to the new study in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), the U.S. had the lowest life expectancy and the highest infant mortality when compared to the other countries.
Contrary to popular belief, the researchers did not find that people in the U.S. use the medical system significantly more often than those in other countries — nor did they find that the way Americans use the medical system accounts for the disconnect in spending. Underinvestment in social services didn’t appear to explain the difference, either.
Instead, high prices for labor and goods, including drugs, procedures and administrative services, seemed to be the major reasons, according to the analysis.
According to ABC News, “…one of the main drivers of the high health care costs in the U.S.: brand name prescription drugs.”
In the U.S. people spend, per person, nearly double the on pharmaceutical drugs — $1,443 — compared to the average of other countries, $749.
For example, long-acting insulin for diabetes has a monthly cost of $186 in the U.S., but costs a third of that in Canada. Crestor, a common cholesterol-lowering medication, will cost patients $86 in the U.S., but less than half in Germany.
Authors found the total spending on generic drugs in the U.S. is less than 30 percent of the total dollars spent on pharmaceuticals, suggesting that brand name medications are a major driver of costs for the U.S. health care system.
AOL.com quoted lead study author Irene Papanicolas of the London School of Economics and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston as saying, ““There’s no doubt that administrative complexity and higher drug prices both matter – as do higher prices for pretty much everything in U.S. healthcare.”
If you would like to dig a little deeper into this issue, check out some of the links below. Once you’ve had a chance to read a few of the stories, let us know what you think. Driving conversations around the health issues affecting Arizonans is another way we are working toward our long-term goal of one day making Arizona the Healthiest State in the Nation!