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Study Compares US Health System to 10 Other High-Income Countries, Finds Healthcare Costs in U.S Almost Double

The major drivers of high healthcare costs in the U.S. appear to be higher prices for nearly everything—from physician and hospital services to diagnostic tests to pharmaceuticals—and administrative complexity, according to a new study published in JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association). The new findings, from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, the Harvard Global Health Institute, and the London School of Economics, suggest that common explanations as to why healthcare costs are so high—such as the notions that the U.S. has too many doctor visits, hospitalizations, procedures, and specialists, and spends too little on social services that could mitigate healthcare needs—may be wrong. Using international data primarily from 2013-16, the researchers compared the U.S. with 10 other high-income countries—the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, Australia, Japan, Sweden, France, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Switzerland—on approximately 100 metrics that underpin healthcare spending. The study confirmed that the U.S. has substantially higher spending, worse population health outcomes, and worse access to care than other wealthy countries.

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