Healthcare in the U.S. costs about twice as much as it does in any other developed country. If the $3 trillion U.S. healthcare sector were ranked as a country, it would be the world’s fifth largest economy according to “Consumer Reports.” The cost of this huge financial burden to every household because of lost wages, higher premiums and taxes plus additional out-of-pocket expensesis more than $8,000.Even with all this money being spent on healthcare, the World Health Organization ranked the U.S. thirty-seventh in healthcare systems, and The Commonwealth Fund placed the U.S. last among the top 11 industrialized countries in overall healthcare. Why is the U.S. paying so much more for care and not appearing at the top of the rankings? Here’s a look at six key reasons the U.S. is failing to provide adequate healthcare at reasonable prices.
1. ADMINISTRATIVE COSTS
The number one reason our healthcare costs are so high, says Harvard economist David Cutler, is that “the administrative costs of running our healthcare system are astronomical. About one quarter of healthcare cost is associated with administration, which is far higher than in any other country.”One example Cutler brought up in a discussion on this topic with National Public Radio was the 1,300 billing clerks at Duke University Hospital, which has only 900 beds. Those billing specialists are needed to determine how to bill to meet the varying requirements of multiple insurers. Canada and other countries that have a single-payer system don’t require this level of staffing to administer healthcare.
2. DRUG COSTS
Another major difference in health costs between the U.S. and every other developed nation is the cost of drugs. The public definitely believes drug costs are unreasonable; now politicians are starting to believe that too. In most countries the government negotiates drug prices with the drug makers, but when Congress created Medicare Part D, it specifically denied Medicare the right to use its power to negotiate drug prices. The Veteran’s Administration and Medicaid, which can negotiate drug prices, pay the lowest drug prices. The Congressional Budget Office has found that just by giving the low-income beneficiaries of Medicare Part D the same discount Medicaid recipients get, the federal government would save $116 billion over 10 years. Think of what the savings might be if all Medicare recipients could benefit from Medicaid-negotiated drug prices!
3. DEFENSIVE MEDICINE