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To Your Health: NLM update Transcript

U.S. health costs and care: 05/21/2018

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Greetings from the National Library of Medicine and MedlinePlus.gov

Regards to all our listeners!

I'm Rob Logan, Ph.D., senior staff, U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM).

Here is what's new this week in To Your Health, a consumer health-oriented podcast from NLM, that helps you use MedlinePlus to follow up on weekly topics.

While U.S. health care spending exceeds 10 other high-income nations, the health of Americans is below international peers in some critical categories, suggests a comprehensive study accompanied by an editorial recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The study finds the U.S. spends 17.8 percent of its gross national product on health care, while the range is between 9.6-12.4 percent in 10 other high-income nations.

The U.S. spends about double on health care spending per capita compared to 10 other high-income nations. For example, the study finds per capita health care spending costs are $9,400 in the U.S. compared to a range from about $3,300 to $6,808 in 10 other high-income countries.

The study finds while U.S. health care utilization rates, such as hospital discharges and common surgeries, are similar to peer nations, the prices of health care labor and goods, especially pharmaceutical and administrative costs, are higher in America. For example, the study finds administrative costs for health care planning, regulation and managing health systems account for about eight percent of health care costs in the U.S. compared to a range of one to five percent in the other high-income nations.

An editorial that accompanies the study notes (and we quote): 'pharmaceuticals and administrative costs appeared to be the major drivers of the difference in overall spending between the United States and other high-income countries' (end of quote).

Meanwhile, the study reports life-expectancy in the U.S. is the lowest and infant mortality rates are the highest among all peer nations.

The study's findings are derived from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) dataset that compares international health care costs, outcomes, and related issues. The OECD dataset is available at oecd.org.

The editorial which is one of four published in JAMA about the study and is a partial tribute to Dr. Uwe Reinhardt (the late health economist) suggests high health costs partially are derived from an enduring shroud of secrecy about how health care prices are negotiated among private U.S. hospitals and insurance companies.

Citing Dr. Reinhardt, the JAMA editorial's writers partially conclude sustained high costs may not decline until the groups that profit from high health care spending, such as professional societies, patient groups, hospitals, drug and device manufacturers, as well as insurance companies provide more leadership.

Otherwise, comparative costs for hospital stays in the U.S. (from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality) is available within the 'statistics and research' section of MedlinePlus.gov's health facilities health topic page.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services provides advice to find and compare doctors, plans, hospitals, and suppliers within the 'find an expert' section of MedlinePlus.gov's health facilities health topic page.

Links to the latest relevant journal research articles about health facilities are available within the 'journal articles' section of MedlinePlus.gov's health facilities health topic page.

To find MedlinePlus.gov's health facilities health topic page, please type 'health facilities' in the search box on MedlinePlus.gov's home page, then, click on 'health facilities (National Library of Medicine).'

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A disclaimer — the information presented in this program should not replace the medical advice of your physician. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any disease without first consulting with your physician or other health care provider.

It was nice to be with you. Please join us here next week and here's to your health!