Starting today and running into the beginning of next week, I’m going to be making some pretty charts that demonstrate just how the U.S. stacks up against its counterparts in the rich, industrialized nations of Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Netherlands, Spain, and the United Kingdom in the area of health care costs.
There won’t be any numbers today. This is just an introduction, albeit an important one. For starters, I should let you know that the figures are based on 2009 data compiled by the International Federation of Health Plans. You can find out more about this organization here.
Countries for which data are included are represented by health care payers and providers who have elected to participate in the federation. This, of course, raises a question about who the participating members are from the United States. The list, you’ll be pleased to know, is none too shabby and includes:
- America’s Health Insurance Plans
- Blue Cross & Blue Shield Association
- Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Massachusetts
- Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Wyoming
- HIP Health Plan of New York
- Kaiser Foundation Health Plan
I mention that for one simple reason: All of the above entities have no motivation for reporting artificially inflated price data. If anything, they would be better served by reporting that prices are actually lower than they really are. Therefore, when the data, which I will be presenting later, show that health care in the United States is much pricier than it is in other countries around the world, you can trust that those figures aren’t biased.
A word about how I’ll be presenting the data: Each day, I’ll focus on one specific type of health care. First up will be diagnostic imaging, followed by physician fees, hospital charges, total hospital and physician charges for certain services, laboratory tests and cultures, and prescription drug prices. Stay tuned. It should be quite interesting.