Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Staggering High Cost of US Healthcare

A report by the International Federation of Health Plans (IFHP), a group of more than 100 member health insurance companies in 25 countries, found that the U.S. pay significantly more for every category of basic healthcare services relative to any other first-world country. The report analyzed the prices of 12 countries. "In the U.S. prices, we have a very wide range and the range is stunning,” said George Halverson, chairman and CEO of Kaiser Permanente, and a member of the IFHP board. "It means, to us, that apparently the difference in the cost of healthcare is not so much about utilization," said Tom Sackville, CEO of the IFHP. "They seem to be more about the actual unit cost of items of care."

The report found the price of a U.S. Cesarean section in 2012 was $10,500-$26,000, while the next highest was Australia at about $10,000, with the least expensive county Argentina at $1,500. A routine office visit of a U.S. physician cost $68-$178, compared with $30 in Canada, $25 in South Africa and $10 in Argentina. One day in the hospital cost U.S. private insurers $4,287, on average, compared with $1,472 for private Australian insurers, the next closest country in price. Meanwhile, public and private insurers in Argentina paid $429 a day, and a private insurer in Spain paid $476, the report said.

Healthcare prices for Canada, New Zealand, Switzerland and the United Kingdom were paid from the public sector and one health plan in each country, while prices for Australia, Chile, the Netherlands, Spain and South Africa were from the private sector and represent prices paid by one private health plan in each country. Prices for France and Argentina were a blend of public and private sector with the data provided by one health plan in each country. U.S. prices were calculated from a database of more than 100 million paid claims that reflect prices negotiated between thousands of providers and almost 100 hundred health plans.