Americans spend more per capita on health care than people anywhere else in the world, yet outcomes in every other developed country are better on almost every measure, from infant mortality to life expectancy.
A big reason for that is our collective gullibility. We continue to believe what many politicians tell us, despite evidence to the contrary: that we have the best health care system in the world.
Similarly, we continue to be persuaded by insurance companies that they’re essential to the system and better than any government program could possibly be at controlling health care costs.
And we are still buying the pharmaceutical industry’s argument that if Americans don’t keep paying more for prescriptions than anyone else on the planet, drug companies—which have gargantuan profit margins—won’t be able to keep developing the drugs we need.
To understand how foolish we are, let’s consider the war of words that recently erupted between health insurers and drug companies.
First, though, let’s take a look at a new study that compares how much Americans pay for prescription medication compared to what folks in a few other industrialized countries pay.
The study, released last week by the Kaiser Permanente Institute for Health Policy, showed that pharmaceutical spending in the U.S. per capita had reached $1,010 in 2012. The next highest spender was Germany at $668 per capita. Australia came in at $558.
Am I the only one who finds it more than a little upsetting that the Germans spend 66 percent of what we spend for drugs and the Aussies spend just 55 percent?