U.S. Fees for Drugs, Medical Procedures Still Exceed Costs in Surveyed Nations

The United States continues to have the highest fees for drugs and various medical procedures of those countries surveyed for the 2013 Comparative Price Report, according to results from the Data International Federation of Health Plans (IFHP) annual survey of medical prices per unit.

Designed to showcase the variation in healthcare prices around the world, the new report examines the price of medical procedures, tests, scans and treatments in nine countries. This year the survey also shows pricing for five specialty prescription drugs.

The IFHP stressed that the price variations bear no relation to health outcomes but rather reflect unit price. Prices examined in the study included those from Argentina, Australia, Canada, England, Netherlands, New Zealand, Spain, Switzerland and the United States. The data for the report was gathered from participating IFHP member organizations in each country. Prices in the United States were based on prices negotiated between private health plans and healthcare providers.

In one example from the report, the average cost in the United States for knee replacement surgery was $16,473, versus $3,192 in Argentina and $7,833 in the United Kingdom.

Some the larger disparities were in prescription and specialty drugs prices. For example, the price for the cancer drug Gleevec ranged from $989 in New Zealand to $6,214, the average price paid in the United States. The price paid for the drug Copaxone ranged from $862 in England to $3,903 in the United States.

Other more common drugs such as Cymbalta, commonly prescribed for depression, cost less than $100 in Switzerland, Spain, the Netherlands and England. Cymbalta cost an average of $110 in Canada and $194 in the United States. Similarly, a drug prescribed for acid reflux averages from $33 in the Netherlands to $215 in the United States.

The IFHP was founded in 1968 by a group of health fund industry leaders, and is now the leading global network of the industry, with more than 80 member companies across 25 countries. IFHP aims to assist in the maintenance of high ethical and professional standards throughout the industry.

Source: International Federation of Health Plans, April 17, 2014

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