Monday, December 04, 2023


“You may choose to look the other way, but you can never say again that you did not know.”

— William Wilberforce

Why are Healthcare Costs So High in the U.S.A. versus Other Countries? (Part I)

stethoscope in shape of dollar sign
stethoscope in shape of dollar sign
How much of that pharma profit is really going into R&D? Is more money being spent to fast-track drugs to market that haven’t been tested properly? Or are we just lab rats for Big PhRMa?

The following is the first part of an exposé on the real cost of healthcare in America.

What Can the U.S.A. Do to Reduce Costs?

A recent phenomena in the healthcare industry is the rise of medical tourism. You’ve probably read an article or two that describes how someone can get surgery in Spain and enjoy a two week vacation while there—and the whole trip, including airfare, surgery and the hospital stay, still costs less than what it would cost here in the states just for the surgical procedure.

Well, that story has been exposed by Snopes as a hoax. However, I have American friends who regularly leave the country to have medical procedures and they wax on about the care they receive versus what they would get here in the states. Not to mention the cost savings.

So, why is that? Why do Americans pay more for their healthcare and receive less value and poorer outcomes when compared with other industrialized countries?

For all that money, you would think that America has the best healthcare outcomes in the world, right? Wrong. We are sadly lagging way behind our fellow industrialized countries. Recently, my colleague, Pediatric Health Advisor, Sheri A. Marino, MA, CCC-SLP wrote about the exemplary healthcare system in Cuba. It seems that the isolation that Cuba received during the Cold War and the U.S.A. embargo benefited their health. Cubans adopted more healthy eating and living practices out of necessity, eschewing modern farming methods.

Going the factory-farm/pesticide/GMO route has contaminated America’s food supply. On top of that, we increased our consumption of junk foods instead of whole foods. Americans became obese and ill, and instead of fixing the problems with our food supply, we take prescription drugs to allay our symptoms. Americans take more drugs than any other nation on earth. But, those drugs aren’t making us healthier. Our disease rates continue to skyrocket and disease states now begin at an even earlier age.

So, What Exactly are Our Health Outcomes?

Cuba is a rare exception. But, America still lags behind other industrialized nations. What are other countries doing differently? Well, for starters, many have adopted a universal healthcare system. What we now call Medicare for All. But, does universal healthcare mean we have to pay more in taxes? You know how Americans hate to pay taxes.

But, think about it. You can pay upfront for socialized medicine through your taxes, knowing you aren’t paying for the uninsured through social programs. Or you can pay the doctor later for your own healthcare maladies that aren’t covered by your insurance. Because you know those insurers do NOT like to pay for whatever it is that you most need.

At least with the former option, you have peace of mind that a catastrophic illness won’t bankrupt you or a family member.

Surely Americans live a longer life though, right? Uh. No.

Actually, we fall below all of our sister countries. Even Costa Ricans outlive us and they are a third world country.  That’s shameful. Obviously, we are doing something wrong.

Wait, though. We have the technology. We have the best drug research and development on the planet. That’s why our drug costs are so high, right? Wrong. Let’s look at what that pharma money is really paying for. The U.S.A. and New Zealand are the only countries on the planet that allow direct-to-consumer advertising of pharmaceutical drugs.

We have been conditioned to think that we can just pop a pill and cure anything—without having to improve our diet or exercise or do any of the other healthy practices that keep our sister nations healthy. We’ve been brainwashed and at a very high price. The price of our health, our longevity, and our cost for care.

Did you know that pharmaceutical companies pay more to lobby politicians than the lobby expenditures of oil & gas combined? That’s a crazy amount of money. No wonder our drugs cost more than other countries where DTC advertising isn’t allowed. And, naught for nothing, those TV commercials and magazine ads and online ads cost big bucks.

How much of that pharma profit is really going into R&D? Is more money being spent to fast-track drugs to market that haven’t been tested properly? Or are we just lab rats for Big PhRMa?

There is also the cost of diagnostic tests. Have you noticed that U.S. doctors are so quick to test you for whatever ails you? You think those tests are necessary to confirm their diagnosis, right? Wrong. We pay more for our healthcare overall because testing is part of the diagnostic healthcare paradigm. Not so in the rest of the world.

Those tests are often unnecessary and/or designed to treat you with a pharmaceutical drug well before a disease is truly evident. See my earlier article on prediabetes, not to mention prehypertension. REALLY?! Prehypertension is now a thing? Yes, it is. And, it’s a huge money maker for pharma because it is the gateway drug to your life dependency on drugs to treat the side effects of the drugs you are already taking.

Vicious cycle, people. VICIOUS!

This article was reprinted with permission. It was originally published by Focus for Health. The original article contained several graphs not included in this reprint.

14 Responses

  1. why even mention Snopes in this story? The site has shown itself to be a plethora of mainstream disinformation. You lend them your credibility even by mentioning their name.

    1. and I see see at the bottom, this has been reprinted. Never mind. It’s Focus For Health’s credibility that suffers.

    1. Exactly right. Anyone who quotes Snopes as a trustworthy source of information at once loses all credibility in my eyes.

      If medical costs were not substantially lower in some places there would be no medical tourism, would there. I live in Thailand, which is a popular destination for people wanting medical interventions at a significantly lesser cost than in their country of origin.

      Same goes for dental treatment. I have a friend from New Zealand arriving next week who is getting his teeth fixed while enjoying a holiday.

  2. So healthcare costs are high from drug companies lobbying and advertising? Sorry, I’m not buying….
    and Medicare for all is your solution? What about free market competition?

  3. The article is misguided A monoply never works . See Communist Russia and Red China. Single payer systems do not work. They simplky redistribute wealth and income. Where they exist guess what happens? Citizens, uausally the welathy, opt out one way or another as we see with Canadians coming to America for tretament.

    Medical tourism is a free enterprise solution. It has many providers competing and that elads to lower cost and better outcomes. Surgery Center of Oklahoma offers medical tourism rates for services but declines health insurance and government plans

  4. The U.S has roughly 5% of the world’s population. However, roughly 80% of the lawyers in the world, guess where they live? You guessed it: the U.S.A. In Canada, my malpractice insurance premium for the year is roughly 5% of what it is in the U.S. A lot of tests ordered are for “liability purposes”. I mean, does EVERY PREGNANT WOMAN need an ultrasound? Does EVERY ankle sprain need an xray? Does EVERY sore throat need a throat culture? Does every abdominal pain need a CT of abdomen? The list can go on and on. Until there is legal reform, I do not foresee the cost of health care coming down. Not to blame lawyers altogether, however, as the public’s expectations are also quite high as well.

    1. The True Cost Of Medical Malpractice – It May Surprise You – Forbes…/the-true-cost-of-medical-malpractice-it-may-surprise-you/
      Sep 7, 2010 – A new study reveals that the cost of medical malpractice in the United States is running at about $55.6 billion a year – $45.6 billion of which is spent on defensive medicine practiced by physicians seeking to stay clear of lawsuits. The amount comprises 2.4% of the nation’s total health care expenditure.

      Apparently only 2.4% of our healthcare cost goes to malpractice. Doctors get paid by the number of procedures they do. As an RN, I would estimate that about 30% of procedures are unnecessary….so do the math. If doctors have convinced the public that “malpractice is so bad that I need to do these procedures so you wont sue me”, they get to do 30 % more procedures and claim the salary in an effort to avoid 2.4% of a malpractice hit. Hmmm….outcome is they get to do more procedures and nobody holds them accountable. My biggest concern are the unnecessary procedures that actually hurt patients either physically, emotionally or both. And god forbid an unnecessary procedure results in death….Avoiding malpractice to do MORE procedures is not a valid excuse.

  5. What the world REALLY needs is someone with actuarial skills and data to set up a POLICY THAT SUPPORTS REAL HEALTH CARE, AND ONLY RESORTS TO CURRENT STANDARDS OF PRACTICE IN EMERGENCIES.

    The article panders excessively to the need for pharmaceutical drugs and treatments. Chronic illness has long been better cured, not just suppressing symptoms while accumulating side effects, by natural medical protocols. And now we’re even seeing crisis medicine in the ICU for sepsis is best done with IV-C and a cocktail of B1 and hydrocortosone, reducing the death rate from 50% to 3%.. and on and on.

    That actuarially properly priced policy would be massively less expensive and drive the corrupt forces out of business. And if the terms of the policy were stated to be servicing only health-conscious ‘association’ members of such groups as those with natural med focus, the claims would dwindle to fit the proper model in the business plan AND be approvable in the USA under the Trump EXECUTIVE ORDER that permits ASSOCIATION POLICIES… where are the actuaries?

  6. We need to take the profit out of insurance. There should be a not for profit option. Then we would see some free market competition.

  7. Pick up the quick read but well researched new book by Functional Medicine blogger Chris Kresser: UNCONVENTIONAL MEDICINE: Join the Revolution to Reinvent Healthcare, Reverse Chronic Disease, and Create a Practice You Love.
    The reasons our costs are so astronomical and the outcomes are so poor are clearly explained. More importantly, he outlines a model of practice to save money AND reverse and prevent disease.
    Friends of mine in health policy and health care administration admit he is spot on.
    Now let’s see if our short term gain society is willing to change. It would be a win- win: the people reverse disease and prevent disease and we save money collectively as a society. But BIG PHARMA will lose. Functional medicine is the paradigm from which we will be restoring health. It will be interesting to see what our industry controlled government chooses.

  8. My ancient ma, at 96, finally had to interrupt her daily routine of driving out for donuts, etc. Very active!! Guards the apartment property. She’d been in much pain a couple weeks, and we dragged her to emergency, and her leg was broken. What we’ve gone through has been SUCH a hassle, though she has insurance, a-plenty (where the crumb UHC only pays after medicare, riding the gov dole, the bums). She got a metal piece to replace the top of her leg bone, connected to the hip bone. My point is, me & the relatives realized: had this insurance & medical system existed in the <1970s, Steven Austin(?) would NOT have been able to become The Bionic Man, even though we HAD the technology. OafbaMarxCare would have delayed him, permanently.

  9. The”Health Care ” and Drug System in this country is a multi trillion dollar SCAM.
    The AMA and DRug lobbyists control legislation for the $Dollars.
    The FDA is controlled by the Drug Companies. Its the fox guarding the chickens and the Chickens are dying. We are the dumb clucks who allow this to go on. as we are dying from chemicals and drugs.

  10. I eat only vegetables and berries and twice a week a small amount of meat, all organic. I walk a mile a day and at 74 am quite healthy. I attribute my good health to the walking and vegetable, plus greens, diet. I don’t have any cravings and eat only twice a day. This is a great diet. I never even get hungry!

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