American Healthcare Prices are Exorbitant


Buy American!!!!!!!!

Our health spending problem is all about prices

Nexium is a bright, purple pill that treats heartburn. It’s the second best-selling drug in the United States right now. Americans spent $6.2 billion buying millions of Nexium prescriptions in 2013 alone.

But we probably didn’t have to: while Americans pay an average of $215 for a Nexium prescription, the Dutch get the exact same purple pill for $23. In England, Nexium costs $42 and in Spain the price is $58.

If the United States paid what the Netherlands paid for Nexium, we would have spent $663 million on the drug in 2013 rather than $6.2 billion.

There’s nothing different about the Nexium that we buy in the United States and the pill that the Dutch buy – except that, in the United States, we’re terrible at negotiating a good deal on pretty much any medical service.

“It’s exactly the same product but, in terms of the American patient, you’re just paying double or more the price for no more health gain,” says Tom Sackville, chief executive of the International Federation of Health Plans.

His group published Thursday its annual looking at international variation in health care prices. For all but one item they studied, from Nexium to MRI scans to bypass surgery, the United States is always the most expensive. The one exception is cataract surgery, where the United States pulled off the somewhat impressive feat of being the second-most expensive country after Australia.


The IFHP report undercuts a common misconception about American health care: that it’s more expensive because we use more of it. Americans actually tend to use slightly less health care than people living elsewhere. We go to the doctor less, for example, and have fewer hospitals per capita than most European countries.

Americans spend more for health care largely because of the prices.

Most other countries have some central body that negotiates prices with hospitals and drug manufacturers. Sackville, who used to work for Britain’s health care system, recalls that it would have a unit of 14 people whose whole job was getting drug manufacturers to give the country a better deal on prescription medications.

That unit of 14 is essentially buying in bulk for a country of 63 million people – and can successfully ask for steep discounts in return.

The United States doesn’t have that type of agency. Every insurance plan negotiates individually with hospitals, doctors and pharmaceutical company to set their own prices. Insurers in the United States don’t, as these charts show, get a bulk discount. Instead, our fragmented system means that Americans pay more for every type of health care that IFHP measured.

“You could say that American health care providers and pharmaceuticals are essentially taking advantage of the American public because they have such a fragmented system,” Sackville. “The system is so divided, its easy to conquer.”

How much are we getting taken advantage of? Here are a few charts that show the big disparities between what we pay for health care in the United States and what people pay elsewhere for the exact same drugs and services.


  1. The cost of our health care system is equal to France’s entire economy.

    Almost half of our $2.7 trillion annual cost of health care is legalized fraud.

    That’s why there are so many Republican doctors in Congress today, to keep it that way.

    Answer to the problem: Get rid of every Republican congressperson and replace them with Owens county goat herders, for they know how to get “cheap” antibiotics.

    buggaity buggadity shoot………….

      • What? Next you will deny gravity too?

        I’ve been holding fire on Obamacare for a variety of reasons.

        I’d say you GOP clowns just better keep you lip zipped and be happy you’re not being tarred feathered by the American people and ran out of town…. or worse

        • The article was about the cost of a particular prescription that is much more expensive here than in other countries. Obamacare didn’t do a damn thing about it and I bet he got lots of money from drug companies to make sure that drug prices aren’t coming down to where they should be. Obama sold out and it shows.

  2. That’s why some of us have been fighting for single payer health care. It would be simple to expand Medicare to include everyone And when I say expand I mean expand to cover dental, eye health, and prescriptions. Only when the country has the ability to set prices will we get control of this out of control system. Further, to be fair, those entering the health industry should have their education costs reimbursed. When this occurs you will see more primarily care physicians instead of so many specialty physicians.
    Lastly this will lower the costs for businesses and relieve them from having to carry health insurance on their employees, thus lowering their costs of doing business.
    Lastly profiting off someone’s misery is just not a good business model.

    • You got it right! I get so tired of hearing how we have the “best healthcare system in the world.” The truth is we have the most expensive healthcare in the world, but the quality of that care only gets us to #37.

    • The drug companies don’t cut Medicare a break either. Nationalizing patients via insurance mandates of any sort, whether Medicare or Obamacare, is the wrong approach.

      What we need to do is to seize the drug companies and the thieving hospitals. Nationalize them. Sell drugs at cost of production. A hospital room should cost no more than a room at Motel 6. Etc.

  3. Training New Primary Care Providers: “The Affordable Care Act invests in the training of new primary care providers, including providing nearly $230 million to increase the number of medical residents, as well as funding to increase the number of nurse practitioners and physician assistants trained in primary care. With these investments, by 2015, more than 1,700 new primary care providers will have been trained and enter primary care practice. The Fiscal Year 2014 budget includes investments that will expand the capacity of institutions to train 2,800 additional primary care providers over five years.”

    Naturally one of the things the news media doesn’t report.

    “Some economists say these ballooning dollar figures place a heavy burden on companies doing business in the United States and can put them at a substantial competitive disadvantage in the international marketplace. For large multinational corporations, footing healthcare costs presents an enormous expense. General Motors, for instance, covers more than 1.1 million employees and former employees, and the company says it spends roughly $5 billion on healthcare expenses annually. GM says healthcare costs add between $1,500 and $2,000 to the sticker price of every automobile it makes.”

    Obviously this is an incentive to move an operation to a country with universal health care to save the $2,000 built into the price of a vehicle here.

    • Good post. There are two reasons a new car depreciates at least $4,000 the minute you drive it off the lot. First is big advertising which costs over $2,000 per vehicle and then there is the healthcare for the auto workers whether they still work or not of another $2,000 as Regulator has pointed out. Buying a used car bears neither of these financial burdens.

Comments are closed.