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Expand chart
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.

Go deeper

Stalemate over filibuster freezes Congress

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell's inability to quickly strike a deal on a power-sharing agreement in the new 50-50 Congress is slowing down everything from the confirmation of President Biden's nominees to Donald Trump's impeachment trial.

Why it matters: Whatever final stance Schumer takes on the stalemate, which largely comes down to Democrats wanting to use the legislative filibuster as leverage over Republicans, will be a signal of the level of hardball we should expect Democrats to play with Republicans in the new Senate.

Dave Lawler, author of World
2 hours ago - World

Biden opts for five-year extension of New START nuclear treaty with Russia

Putin at a military parade. Photo: Valya Egorshin/NurPhoto via Getty

President Biden will seek a five-year extension of the New START nuclear arms control pact with Russia before it expires on Feb. 5, senior officials told the Washington Post.

Why it matters: The 2010 treaty is the last remaining constraint on the arsenals of the world's two nuclear superpowers, limiting the number of deployed nuclear warheads and the bombers, missiles and submarines which can deliver them.

Updated 2 hours ago - Technology

Facebook refers Trump ban to independent Oversight Board for review

Photo: Alex Edelman/AFP via Getty Images

Facebook's independent Oversight Board has accepted a referral from the platform to review its decision to indefinitely suspend former President Trump.

Why it matters: While Trump critics largely praised the company's decision to remove the then-president's account for potential incitement of violence, many world leaders and free speech advocates pushed back on the decision, arguing it sets a dangerous precedent for free speech moving forward.