HIT Around The Globe: Why is America's Healthcare Cost So High?

David Lareau | Government Health IT | January 14, 2013

There are many reasons why our country’s healthcare costs are so high. Just look at the numbers: Globally, the average healthcare expenditure per capita is less than $1,000. In the US, it’s more than $8,000. Japan spends a bit more than $3,000 per capita; Brazil less than $1,000, and the U.K. a bit less than half of what we do.

One reason: Americans spend more on seeing doctors, particularly specialists. As an American abroad, I see that we go to the doctor more often than others. In Europe, for instance, people can go directly to the pharmacist for routine conditions, such as the common cold, while in the US, our first thought would be to go to the doctor’s office.

Here, it’s more  expensive to operate a medical practice. Billing requirements, meaningful use, HIPAA, and expensive malpractice coverage all factor into a higher cost structure. These costs, when applicable, are much lower outside the US. And everyone along the chain typically “takes a piece” for their profit, executive compensation and other outlays that do little to improve patient health...