Value hunters should skip angioplasties in the United States and go for the cataract surgery instead.
The International Federation of Health Plans, San Francisco, has published a report comparing the cost of medical procedures, and bundles of medical services, in the United States with the cost of comparable services in other wealthy countries.
The federation found, for example, that the average amount health plans actually pay for an abdominal CT scan is $536; the cost of that service ranges from $61 to $487 in the other 10 countries compared for that indicator.
The U.S. abdominal CT scan providers in the top 5% in terms of cost charge $1,564 or more for a scan – or about 25 times what an abdominal CT scan costs in Canada.
But the cheapest U.S. abdominal CT scan provider charges just $164, and that price is lower than the scan prices charged in France, the United Kingdom, Chile, Germany, Switzerland, New Zealand and Australia, the federation says.
When the federation compared physician fees for cataract surgery, it found that
the U.S. fees ranged from a low of $632 to a 95th percentile level of $2,210, with an average of $954. Both the average price and the low price were below the typical prices charged in New Zealand, France and Chile.
The federation found both the average prices and the low prices charged for some procedures, such as normal deliveries and angioplasties, were much higher in the United States than in other countries.
Total hospital and physician costs for an angioplasty range from a low of $18,288 in the United States to a 95th percentile level of $60,448, with an average cost of $29,055.
In the other countries compared, the typical cost ranged from $1,641 to $12,581.
For a normal delivery, the U.S. low price for physician fees was $2,380 and the average was $2,997. Elsewhere, the typical cost ranged from $129 to $1,336.
- Allison Bell