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We all pay for the bloated U.S. health care system

Data: OECD; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Americans pay higher out-of-pocket costs than most other wealthy countries, a byproduct of having the most expensive health care system in the world, according to the OECD.

Why it matters: Health care costs are at the heart of today's most explosive health care debates, including Medicare for All, prescription drug prices and surprise medical bills.

Medicare for All has been offered by some Democrats as the solution to these issues of expense, but the version proposed by Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren "would leapfrog all these other countries in terms of generosity," said the Kaiser Family Foundation's Larry Levitt.

  • "Other high income countries in the world provide universal coverage and protect patients from crippling out of pocket costs, but none of them have zero cost sharing like the Medicare for all plans being debated now," he added.

The bottom line: Other countries — even those with private insurance — pay lower prices than the U.S. to doctors, hospitals and drug companies.

  • "The main regulatory difference is that other similarly large and wealthy countries’ governments play a role in either directly or indirectly controlling prices," said KFF's Cynthia Cox.
  • Some supporters of Medicare for All want to change that; Warren has proposed aggressive cost control measures as part of her plan.