This week, the Supreme Court considered President Obama’s health care reform law. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act expands health coverage to millions of uninsured Americans. If the law is overturned, health care costs covered by the federal government would drop substantially.

While government spending on health care could decline, that will not result in lower health care costs. Based on data published by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development on global health issues, 24/7 Wall St. identified the countries where health care costs are the highest per person.

Spending a great deal on health care does not result in a healthier population. Of 34 OECD member countries, only three that spent the most per person have citizens that live the longest. The United States spends more than any other country but only has the eighth-lowest life expectancy in the OECD. Japan, meanwhile, spends $2,878 per person — about $5,000 less than the U.S. — and has the highest life expectancy among developed nations.

In most of the OECD countries, health care expenses come to more than $2,000 per person each year. In the case of the 10 countries with the highest costs, expenses are roughly twice that. In the U.S., spending on health care per capita comes to nearly $8,000 per person. Many proponents of public health care blame the U.S.’s highly privatized system as the reason for such high costs. But according to Rumpf, a number of factors influence the national spending on care.

How patients use medical services impacts health care expenses. Expensive diagnostic procedures and elective surgeries, like MRI scans and corrective knee surgeries, drive up costs. Conversely, irregular visits to the doctor impair preventative care.

Continue reading →