United States Spends More Per Capita on Health Care Than Other Nations, Study Finds
The United States spends more on health care per capita than other industrialized nations but does not receive more services, according to a study published on Tuesday in the July/August issue of Health Affairs, the Los Angeles Times reports. For the study -- led by Gerard Anderson, a health policy professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health -- researchers analyzed the health care costs of 30 nations in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
The study found:
- The nations examined spend a median of $2,193 per capita on health care;
- The United States spent $5,267 per capita for prescription drugs, hospital stays and physicians visits in 2002, compared with $3,446 per capita for Switzerland, the next highest spender;
- Health care spending accounted for 14.6% of the U.S. gross domestic product in 2002, a time when only two other nations -- Switzerland and Germany -- spent more than 10% of their GDP on health care;
- The United States has 2.9 hospital beds per 1,000 residents, compared with a median of 3.7 beds per 1,000 residents among the other nations examined;
- The United States had 2.4 physicians per 1,000 residents in 2001, compared with a median of 3.1 physicians per 1,000 residents among the other nations examined in 2002;
- The United States had 7.9 nurses per 1,000 residents in the United States in 2001, compared with a median of 8.9 nurses per 1,000 residents among the other nations examined in 2002;
- The United States has 12.8 CT scanners per one million U.S. residents, compared with a median of 13.3 scanners per one million residents among the other nations examined;
- The United States appears to have more magnetic resonance imaging machines per capita than many of the other nations examined, but the machines are used only 10 hours daily in the United States, compared with a median of 18 hours daily in other nations; and
- The average medical malpractice payment, which included both settlements and judgments, was $265,103 in the United States in 2001, compared with $309,417 in Canada and $411,171 in Britain.
Karen Davis -- president of the Commonwealth Fund, which supported the study -- said that the United States "does not get commensurate value for its health care dollar" (Girion, Los Angeles Times, 7/12).
The study is available online. This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.