Prices Still Explain High U.S. Health Care Spending

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Prices Still Explain High U.S. Health Care Spending
Prices Still Explain High U.S. Health Care Spending

FRIDAY, Jan. 11, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- The difference in health spending between the United States and other countries is still explained by health care prices, according to a study published in the January issue of Health Affairs.

Gerard F. Anderson, Ph.D., from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, and colleagues used Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Health Statistics to update a 2003 article examining the sizable differences in health spending between the United States and other countries.

The researchers found that the conclusion reached in the 2003 article that health care prices are the primary reason why the United States spends more than any other country on health care remains valid despite implementation of health policy reforms and health system restructuring since publication of the 2003 article. The United States still provides significantly fewer resources compared with the OECD median country on key measures of health care resources per capita (hospital beds, physicians, and nurses). The United States is not consuming greater resources than any other country, indicating that higher prices paid are the most logical factor, according to the researchers.

"Because the U.S. is still not devoting more real resources to medical care than the typical OECD country, we believe that the conclusion that 'it's the prices, stupid' remains valid," the authors write. "What is different between 2003 and 2016 is that the differential between what public and private insurers pay for health care services has become wider."

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