US Pays More for Prescription Drugs, Surgeries

The United States was found to have higher prescription and surgery costs compared with other countries.

Although there is an overwhelming need to lower drug costs and there has been legislation in the works to do so, drug costs are skyrocketing, and it might just be a US problem.

A recent report from the International Federation of Health Plans found that the United States paid significantly more for prescription drugs than other countries did in 2015. The survey included the prices a certain health plan paid for drugs in Australia, New Zealand, Spain, South Africa, Switzerland, and the UK.

For the United States, researchers used 370 million medical and 170 million pharmacy claims to analyze the prices negotiated and paid. They discovered that the United States, on average, paid $292 for a 30-day supply of Xarelto, which treats or prevents blood clots, while South Africa only paid $48 for the drug.

The rheumatoid arthritis drug Humira only cost $552 in South Africa for an 18-day supply, and cost $2669 in the US. States have been long scrutinized for limiting access to hepatitis C cures, such as Harvoni.

The limited access is largely because a 4-week supply of the drug costs $32,114 in the United States. In other countries such as Switzerland, the drug only costs $16,861.

All of the drugs, except OxyCotin, were found the be costlier in the United States than in the other countries studied. The researchers even found disparities between surgical procedures.

Cardiac catheterization costs an average of $5061 in the United States, and the same procedure only costs $181 in Switzerland. In the United States, an appendectomy costs $15,930, and it only costs $1786 in South Africa.

The United States was also found to have higher costs regarding the normal delivery of a baby or a C-section, cataract surgery, and knee replacements.

Higher prescription and surgical costs is likely the reason that healthcare costs are skyrocketing. The good news is that since other countries are paying less, the United States could potentially do the same.