With the onset of the Affordable Care Act, people have been thinking that Medicare in the U.S. has become a little more affordable than before. For those who are not aware, the Affordable Care Act puts consumers back in control of their health care. Under the law, a new “Patient’s Bill of Rights” gives the Americans the stability and flexibility they need to make informed choices about their health. This act though, does not reflect the current prices of medical procedures in the U.S. when compared to other countries. A survey compared costs of medical procedures in the U.S. and other countries and it clearly displays the huge disparity of prices. For example, in the U.S., an angiogram costs $800, while in France, it only costs $123. An appendectomy in the U.S. costs around $13,000, while it only costs $5,600 in Canada. A coronary artery bypass in Switzerland costs around $25,500, while in the U.S., it costs a whopping $68,000.
With this in mind, a third of the American population says they have put off getting medical procedures or treatments that they or their family members need because of the cost. Although this percentage is in line with roughly 30% figures seen in recent years, it is among the highest readings in the 14-year history of Gallup asking the question. Every November since 2001, Gallup has asked the American population f they have put off any sort of medical procedure for themselves or their families in the past 12 months. Uninsured Americans are still the most likely to report having put off medical treatment because of cost.
For all the attention health care has gotten in recent years, there is still little understanding in the popular discussion of why U.S. costs are so high. In recent studies, the major cause of the problem with U.S. health care costs is a labor problem with medical professionals. Wages and work rules like referral decisions leading to over-utilization of employees, staffing levels in hospitals, have driven costs to a level that is now horrendous. Dealing with this will be hard and complex. The first step is to identify the root of the problem and make it transparent instead of some medicare act that seems to perform more as a band-aid that clouds the real problem of the health care industry.