Sherry Glied (former HPM Chair and current HHS Secretary for Planning and Evaluation) and Miriam Laugesen (HPM policy professor) have a new article in Health AffairsHigher Fees Paid to US Physicians Drive Higher Spending for Physician Services Compared to Other Countries.  The authors compared physicians’ fees paid by public and private payers for primary care office visits and hip replacements in Australia, Canada, Germany, France, the UK, and the US.  They also factored in physicians’ incomes, the cost of medical education, and physician supply.

The result?  Payers doled out higher fees to US primary care physicians for office visits and much higher fees to orthopedic physicians for hip replacements than payers in the comparison countries.  US primary care and orthopedic physicians also earned higher incomes ($186,582 and $442,450, respectively) than their foreign counterparts.

Remember Michael Sparer’s final lecture?  A litany of price comparisons between the US and other countries (for MRIs, CAT scans, coronary bypass surgeries, salaries, etc) revealed that US consumers pay more than just about everyone for a variety of health services.

Meanwhile, CMS is already working to reduce Medicare payments  to hospitals for 30-day readmissions, and the prospect of reduced Medicare reimbursement for physicians is also looking more likely.   That said, who is willing to accept lower prices in order to contain the rate of health care cost growth in the US (and prevent the ship from sinking)?  Please step forward.

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