In a piece for The Wall Street Journal, Joseph Walker attempts to understand why Americans pay so much for healthcare by examining a number of charts. The short version of his conclusion is that Americans aren’t buying much more healthcare than other OECD consumers, but they are paying more for what they get. He writes:
The U.S. spends more per capita on health care than any other developed nation. It will soon spend close to 20% of its GDP on health—significantly more than the percentage spent by major Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development nations.
What is driving costs so high? As this series of charts shows, Americans aren’t buying more health care overall than other countries. But what they are buying is increasingly expensive. Among the reasons is the troubling fact that few people in health care, from consumers to doctors to hospitals to insurers, know the true cost of what they are buying and selling.
Providers, manufacturers and middlemen operate in an opaque market that can mask their role and their cut of the revenue. Mergers give some players more heft to enlarge their piece of the pie.
See the charts here.