The medical costs in the United States are astronomically high, as evidenced by the most expensive hospital treatments in America. While one of the characteristics of a developed nation is free healthcare provided to all of its citizens, such an arrangement is conspicuously absent in America. There is a multitude of reasons behind this, with one of the main reasons being the fact that free healthcare will result in a significant increase in tax rates, something vehemently opposed by most of the population.
Another reason behind the extremely high prices behind medical treatments is the practice of the insurance companies. For people who have medical insurance, it is the insurance companies who have to pay for the procedures. And if there is one thing insurance companies are famous for, it is their inability to pay up. Hence, when they get stuck with the bill, they argue with the hospital and haggle in order to lower their bills. And if there is another thing insurance industries are famous for, it is their ability to lower the cost they have to pay. Hence, they are often successful at lowering the medical bills. To counter this, hospitals have increased the charges of medical procedures significantly more than their cost. This is a huge burden for the people who do not own insurance, as they do not have the knowledge or the resources or the time to try and lower the bills.
It is no secret that human beings are very fragile. We can suffer from any of a countless diseases and that doesn’t even include accidents that occur on a daily basis. This is why the United States managed to record over 38.6 million hospital stays in just one year alone (2011). These visits cost the American economy an incredible 387 billion dollars. Yes, billion with a B! Of these stays, nearly 30% involved OR procedures which also managed to make up nearly half the 387 billion dollars mentioned earlier.
It is easy to understand why over 80% of the total hospital stays include people in the 20-84 age group. Furthermore, females tended to make up around half of the total number of people having to make hospital visits. Unsurprisingly, most of the people who had to visit the hospital had either private insurance or were supported by Medicare.
Another reason why the medical procedures are so expensive in the United States is due to the astronomically high cost of drugs in the country. You might be surprised to find out that unlike in other Western countries where the government negotiates prices with drug manufacturers, in the United States, Congress has specifically forbidden Medicare to use its power to negotiate drug prices. This can result in the company charging exorbitant prices for drugs in order to recover the money invested in their research and development. Others can simply misuse this power in order to vastly increase their prices as exhibited by the now infamous Martin Shkreli incident, where Martin Shkreli, CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, raised the price of a life saving drug from $13.5 to $750, leading to him being dubbed as the most hated person in the United States.
Despite the high prices charged, the United States does not even feature in the list of countries with the best hospitals, a fact which is as damning as indicative of the fact that high prices do not necessarily mean high quality. We found out most expensive treatments in America from a report prepared by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. The prices below represent the average cost per stay from 2011, the only year this data is available for.