America's Insane Health Care Prices

Moneybox
A blog about business and economics.
March 26 2013 2:35 PM

American Health Care Prices Are Super High  

office-visit-800x57

Via Ezra Klein, above find the price charged for a routine doctor's office visit in the United States versus other countries. That comes from the International Federation of Health Plans, and they have similar price charts for other health care services—and they all look the same.

This is basically never mentioned in the U.S. health care policy debate, but the reason why foreign prices are lower is not mysterious—they have laws forcing the prices down. The fact that we allow such high prices is why health care in America is hard to afford. The high prices make private health care extraordinarily expensive to patients and employers, and the same high prices make it difficult for the government to cover everything through public-sector insurance. Canada, where the prices are lower, manages to have a more robust welfare state without higher taxes for precisely this reason. When I say America's doctors are overpaid, this is what I'm talking about.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.