An organization called the International Federation of Health Plans keeps track of medical costs in most of the developed nations around the world. As would be expected, the costs for most procedures and medical treatment is highest in the United States. It has been pointed out often that American health care costs are too high and are a much more substantial part of the gross domestic product than they are in any other country.
The latest data from the International Federation of Health Plans shows that an appendectomy costs $27,797 in America. This is in the 95th percentile of commercial costs for the surgery. The U.S. average for the procedure is $13,003. The U.S. “commercial low” is $7,756. But who wants to be the patient who gets the cheapest surgery?
The comparable cost of the same surgery in Germany is $3,093. There is no evidence that German patients get worse results. All that can be said from the research is that the costs in the U.S. are much, much higher.
There are a number of arguments about why medical expenses are so much higher in America. Among them are that doctors are greedy, record keeping is inefficient and malpractice costs are too high. Maybe all of these things are true. Whatever the cause, the disparity with other developed nations remains staggering, and it still is not entirely explained.
If helping the average American household, which brings in about $50,000 a year before taxes — and has brought in only that much for about 10 years — is supposed to be part of the resurrection of the U.S. economy, then a collar on medical costs is essential to an improvement in consumer spending. Even with insurance, how many families can afford to even pay a part of $28,000?
Douglas A. McIntyre