Some eye-popping charts from the International Federation of Health Plans tell a familiar story in a new way. Health care costs more in the United States than it does in other countries. The IFHP reviewed costs in nine countries and found that the average price for 20 common medical procedures, test, scans, and treatments in the United States far exceeded prices elsewhere. The range was the greatest for surgery. For instance, coronary artery bypass surgery ranges from about $5,000 in India to about $68,000 in the United States.
Pap smears need not be done every year, according to guidelines released last month by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Women ages 21–65 should get a test every three years. Women ages 30–65 have the option of getting a pap smear every five years if they are tested for the presence of human papillomavirus (HPV) at the same time. Providers and patients who are used to more frequent testing may have qualms about the USPSTF guidelines.