The real reason the U.S. spends twice as much on health care as other wealthy countries

A sweeping new study of health-care expenditures found that the United States spends almost twice as much on health care as 10 other wealthy countries, a difference driven by high prices — including doctors' and nurses' salaries, hospital charges, pharmaceuticals and administrative overhead.

For years, it has been clear that Americans are not getting a good bang for their buck on health care. The United States spends more than any other country and gets much less, at least as measured by life expectancy or infant mortality. Policy fixes have tended to focus on the idea that medicine is being overused. The thinking goes that the American health care system is uniquely set up to incentivize wasteful imaging scans, oodles of unnecessary prescriptions and procedures that could have been prevented.

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