There are many articles, headlines and political debates about the high cost of health care in the United States — 17% of gross domestic product, which is the total value of goods and services provided in a country during one year. Yet, the health status of Americans, and the resulting quality of health lags behind other developed countries: Australia, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Japan, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Ironically, the U.S. spends about 50% more than these countries, and is the only one without universal health insurance. Adding insult to injury, our rate of chronic conditions, obesity and infant mortality are higher than those in the countries mentioned.
According to the most recent Commonwealth Fund Report, the second highest spending country behind the United States is Switzerland. Switzerland spends $6,300 per person annually on health care, while the United States spends an astonishing $9,000 per person. Switzerland’s life expectancy is almost 83 years compared to 79 years in the U.S. The reasons for our nation’s high health care costs are multifaceted, but high prescription drug costs and high- tech diagnostic exams top the list. Consider the average cost for heart bypass surgery in the U.S. The estimated cost is $75,000, compared to $16,000 in The Netherlands for the very same surgery. As the research from the Commonwealth Fund Report indicates, “it is clear that we are paying higher prices in the United States, but not getting more for it.”
SOURCE: Commonwealth Fund Report
“For the wealthiest country in the world… to not have figured out access to basic health care as a fundamental right for individuals, I think is a little bit of a national embarrassment.”
— John Jay Shannon, MD, CEO of Chicago Cook County
Health & Hospitals System,
(Beckers Hospital Review, 2015)