[MOL] U.S. Health Care Costlier [00413] Medicine On Line


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[MOL] U.S. Health Care Costlier



Tuesday, May 09, 2000
U.S. Health Care Costlier

      Americans pay more for health care than people in other industrialized countries, but we're not always getting more for our money.
       That's according to a new report published in the May 8 issue of Health Affairs. Study authors Gerard Anderson, a professor at Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health in Baltimore, Md., and Jeremy Hurst, who directs health policy for the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris, say American health-care costs are double that of most other OECD nations. Fourteen percent of the U.S. gross domestic product was spent on health care in 1998. That equals to about $4,270 per person. Health-care costs average about 8 percent of other industrialized nations' GDP, or about $2,000 per person.
      But are the Americans getting better care? The findings in the report say no. The U.S. has the highest breast cancer survival rate in the world, but it's only slightly higher than Japan, Australia and Sweden, which all spend far less on health care. There has also been a drop in heart attack deaths in the U.S., but America spent a lot of money on technologically advanced equipment to achieve that goal. Canada has also seen a drop in heart attack mortality rates, but spent much less than the U.S. American hospitals spent five times more in 1996 than the average spent by OECD hospitals.
      More money also didn't guarantee happier patients. In a survey published in the same issue of Health Affairs, researchers found Australians, Canadians, New Zealanders and the British all reported being satisfied with their health care. Senior citizens in the U.S. also reported satisfaction, but the U.S. spends much more than Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Britain. The survey also shows 9 out of 10 elderly British patients paid nothing out of their pockets for prescription drugs last year compared to 2 out of 10 Americans who did.
      The report does point out that Americans receive treatment more quickly than people in other OECD countries.
--By Katrina Woznicki


 
 
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