US health costs analysed

US health costs analysed

A recent report from the Journal of the American Medical Association asks why spending on healthcare in the US is so much higher than in other similar high-income countries. According to the report, in 2016 the US spent almost twice as much as other countries on medical care, while also performing worse in terms of many population health outcomes. The main differences are the costs of labour, goods (such as pharmaceuticals and equipment) and administrative costs, which are all significantly higher in the US.

“Healthcare spending in the US is a major concern,” said the American Medical Association, “and is higher than in other high-income countries, but there is little evidence that efforts to reform US healthcare delivery have had a meaningful influence on controlling healthcare spending and costs.”

In 2016, nearly 18 per cent of US GDP (17.8 per cent in total) was spent on healthcare, compared with, for example, 12.4 per cent in Switzerland and 9.6 per cent in Australia. The proportion of US citizens with health insurance, however, was 90 per cent, less than the average of 99 to 100 per cent in the other countries compared.

“As patients, physicians, policymakers and legislators actively debate the future of the US health system,” said the report, “data such as these are needed to inform policy decisions.”