Healthcare spend in the U.S. double that of comparable countries

Image Credit: Aaron Burden, Unsplash.

Image Credit: Aaron Burden, Unsplash.

JAMA just released a report analyzing healthcare spend and other data in the United States versus 10 of the highest income countries (United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, Australia, Japan, Sweden, France, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Denmark).

The study found that the major drivers of cost differences in the U.S. were the prices of labor and goods, and administrative costs. 

Key findings included:

  • The U.S. spent about twice as much, but utilization rates were similar across the selected countries.
  • In 2016, the U.S. spent 17.8% of its gross domestic product (GDP) on health care, compared to 9.6% in Australia to 12.4% in Switzerland.
  • 90% of the U.S. population had life insurance, vs. 99%-100% in the other 10 countries.
  • Life expectancy in the U.S. was the lowest at 78.8 years, vs. a mean value of 81.7 years for all 11 countries.
  • The U.S. had the highest percentage of adults who were overweight or obese (70.1%), compared to a range of 23.8% to 63.4% for the other countries.
  • Eight percent of U.S. GDP was spent on administrative and governance costs (planning, regulating, and managing health systems and services), vs. 1% - 3% in the other countries.
  • Pharmaceutical spend per capita was $1,443 in the U.S., compared to a range of $466 - $939 per capita in the other countries.
  • The U.S. performed better on some acute care outcomes, but not as well on primary care outcomes.
  • The average generalist physician salary was $218,173 in the U.S., vs. $86, 607 - $154,126 in the other countries.

Read more: Health Care Spending in the United States and Other High-Income Countries.