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Americans pay top prices for health care and the bill keeps rising

Meredith Cohn, The Baltimore Sun on

Published in Health & Fitness

Americans are spending more than twice as much for health care than people in other developed countries and more than double what they used to spend, a new batch of figures from the Johns Hopkins University shows.

Despite efforts to curb costs, the amount spent per person in the United States was $9,892 in 2016, 117 percent more than the tally in 2000 when researchers at Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health first collected such spending data.

The main reason was not that Americans were using more medicine and seeing more doctors than people in other countries. It's that everything was more expensive, from doctor and nurse salaries and pharmaceuticals to hospital administration and medical services.

The bill per person in the United States was 25 percent higher than it was in Switzerland, the second biggest spender, where per capital expenditures were $7,919. It was 108 percent higher than in Canada, which spent $4,753 per person. Spending was 145 percent higher than the average of 36 industrialized nations that are members of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

The researchers also found that private insurers were paying far more than public insurers and health care spending overall was increasing faster than the U.S. gross domestic product. Americans also had less access to care than those in other countries and the country was producing fewer graduates from medical school.

The analysis, conducted by Johns Hopkins' Bloomberg School with the Rand Corp. and the American University of Armenia, will appear in the January issue of Health Affairs.

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"In spite of all the efforts in the U.S. to control health spending over the past 25 years, the story remains the same -- the U.S. remains the most expensive because of the prices the U.S pays for health services," said Gerard F. Anderson, the study's lead author and a professor in the Bloomberg School's department of health policy and management.

"It's not that we're getting more; it's that we're paying much more," he said.

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