Survey explores why U.S. healthcare costs so much more

Prices for specific healthcare procedures are higher in the United States than in other parts of the world--among the reasons for the great overall cost disparity in delivering care, reports The Washington Post.

According to data from the International Federation of Health Plans, the United States pays more for 22 out of 23 medical devices and services than other developed countries. A U.S. hospital stay costs an average of $15,734 versus $1,825 in Spain and $5,004 in Germany, the National Journal notes.

"Other countries negotiate very aggressively with the providers and set rates that are much lower than we do," healthcare economist Gerard Anderson told the Post. If correct, the report could be a future blueprint for negotiations between hospitals and payers, particularly if costs continue to accelerate at near double-digit figures.

European observers noted that much of the U.S. healthcare system is profit-based, and that margins for pharmaceuticals and medical devices are bigger than in the nation's financial services sector.

"There's a lot of low-hanging fruit we can deal with before we get into regulating people's prices." Len Nichols, director of the Center for Health Policy Research and Ethics at George Mason University, told the Post. "Maybe, after we've cut waste for 10 years, we'll be ready to have a discussion over prices."

To learn more:
- read the Washington Post article
- read the National Journal article 
- here's the IFHP data (.pdf)

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