Six Charts That Illustrate Just How Much Higher Health Care Costs Are For Americans

By: Jeffrey Young Become a fan

Originally Posted: 03/26/2013 3:30 pm EDT

Having a baby is just one medical cost that's higher in the United States than in other countries, according to a new report.

Decades of data have shown time and again that the U.S. has the costliest health care system in the world by a variety of measures.

Still, a report released by the International Federation of Health Plans (i.e., health insurance companies) today provides a striking reminder of just how much more expensive health care is for Americans.

The report compared prices in the U.S. with prices in 11 other nations. It found that average prices in the United States are higher for most medical services cited in the report, but at the top end of the range, U.S. health care prices can be staggering compared to what citizens of other nations pay.

Planning to have a baby? At an average price for a normal delivery of $9,775, you'll pay more than a woman in the 10 other countries in the report -- and possibly as much as $16,653, or double what it would cost an Australian woman and more than 14 times the price for a woman in Argentina. The average price of a Cesarean section in the U.S., $15,041, is also higher than any other country -- and it could cost as much as $26,305.

Hospital and Physician Cost

C-Section Costs

Need life-saving coronary artery bypass surgery? Again, the U.S. average price is the highest at $73,420, and may reach $150,515. The average American price is more than $30,000 higher than the second-place price (in Australia), and more than eight times higher than in Argentina.

Bypass Costs

The price per-day of being the hospital also finds the U.S. leading the pack. The average daily cost of a U.S. hospital stay is $4,287 -- almost 10 times Argentina -- and it can be more than twice that amount.

Cost per hospital day

How about a basic doctor's appointment? In the U.S., the average price is $95, and it ranges to $176 or more. In second-place Chile, it comes to $38.

Routine office visits

There are more examples in the International Federation of Health Plans report, including prescription drugs, diagnostic testing and joint replacement surgeries. The results are pretty consistent across the board.

So what's the total effect of these high prices on the U.S.? This chart showing the share of nine countries' gross domestic product that goes to health care offers a summation of the entire report.

Percentage of GDP


International Federation of Health Plans 2012 Comparative Price Report by Jeffrey Young