News and Commentary

United States Leads in Medical Costs

A recently released international survey found what surveys have underscored for years: There is a wide variation in costs in the United States from region to region.

The “2010 Comparative Price Report” shows that average U.S. prices for procedures are once again the highest of the 12 countries surveyed for nearly all of the 14 common services and procedures reviewed.

For example, the survey found the average cost of an MRI scan in the United States to be $1,009, with Switzerland second at $874. But an MRI in the United States costs from $509 to more than $2,950. Cataract surgery costs an average American $14,764, compared to a person in Argentina, where it costs $351.

The survey also found great variation in drug prices. Nexium costs from $30/month in the United Kingdom to $186/month in the United States.

Surveyed items include angiograms, CT and MRI scans, office visits, newborn deliveries, appendectomies, cataract and hip replacement surgeries, hospital stays, bypass surgeries, and angioplasties.

The other countries studied were Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, France, Spain, Switzerland, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom.

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