Why Americans Pay More for Colonoscopies
Because America charges more, and has made the procedure more profitable
By Ruth Brown, Newser Staff
Posted Jun 1, 2013 4:45 PM CDT
   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – Americans spend more on health care than any other country. A US hip replacement costs four times as much as one in Switzerland. A C-section costs three times as much as New Zealand. And a hospital stay costs triple that of other developed nations—though it doesn't typically last any longer. And studies say it's not because Americans get better care—the price tags are just higher, reports the New York Times. "People think it’s like other purchases: that if you pay more you get a better car. But in medicine, it’s not like that," says a doctor who tracks health care pricing.

The Times looks at the colonoscopy, which costs an average of $1,185 in the US, but a few hundred in most other first-world countries. Colonoscopies are not the only way to screen for colon cancer, and until a decade ago, weren't so common. Now more than 10 million Americans get them each year. And as the market has grown, so too have the business opportunities. The procedure has been made more profitable by moving it from doctors' offices to special surgery centers, and using anesthesiologists. So why does this happen in the US and not elsewhere? Ezra Klein, looking at the same data, says it's because other countries have set rates, negotiated by governments or providers. In the US, outside of Medicare, it's a "free-for-all," he writes in the Washington Post. Click to read Klein's full column at the Post and the full article at the Times.

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justsaynn
Jun 4, 2013 7:10 AM CDT
Where do I start? Currently in European Ukraine following surgery and 1st set of chemo for malignant lymph glands secondary to malignant cancer mass at base of tongue. Diagnosis from local Sonoma area, Ca. large hospital was lymph nodes were fluid filled, benign, non-cancerous and tongue was healthy and normal. They sent me on my merry way thinking I was cancer free after my concern that I had cancer was expressed to them, and then they billed me 800$ over stated first billing for the honor, the non-member rate. Part time worker, no health insurance, and as owner of a house, county would not help unless I sold house. Ain't gonna do that, so, seeking surgery for simple tumor surgery, I did medical tourism. In denyal from from biopsy here, as American hospitals and Doctors are the best, and they diagnosed me as having no cancer, but hard to argue with cancer. Had surgery on tumors, tongue, chemo therapy, and will have more chemo followed my radiation therapy. Full 100 day plus hospital stay, all meds, exams, surgery, treatment by the best Surgions, Doctors was less than flight costs, in a hospital that conducts medical research for American pharmacutical companys, while being treated like a Kennedy for paying cash. Really. Anything second world, second rate. Toilets and Food maybe, nothing else. And tort reform? I'm lawyering up, as my 70% 5 year life expectancy is due to that hospitals mis-diagnosis allowing that cancer to grow. Anyone want to tell me my remaining life is worth less than that hospitals CEO's yearly income and benefits? I would trade each and every extra day I could possibly live for whatever money I have, but that is not how it works. And insurance? Like insurance competition lowers costs. Why do they not get between me and everything else I buy at Walmart if their competition would make prices even lower? Instead, they get to tell my doctor what services they will pay for or not, while paying whatever the hospital bills them, which is reflected in what insurance charges you and me. Instead, they make profit of on peoples misery. I voted with my feet and my wallet, and when I get home, I plan on setting up a way for others to have access as I did. Amazing everyone is so Ok with such a mercenary system, thinking ours is the best.
HMD-SMD-ITY
Jun 2, 2013 9:46 PM CDT
I got a new employer and thus a new insurance company. My PCP said, "Oh, lets break the cherry on that insurance card." So he scheduled me with the colonoscopy dude and I was on the books. So I get the script for the gallon of go-juice. A week before the deal I get a call from the doc himself. He tells me to have a friend bring me. But therein was the problem. Nobody I know was available that day. So the tech calls me the day ahead and makes sure I'm drinking the gallon of Draino. I tell him I will have to drive myself and he says, "NO problem, you can do it without any anesthesia." So I show up for the tubing job and the doc says, "Hey, I hear you are doing this with no joy juice, that's great." So I don't even have as much as an aspirin and they begin to snake a camera through my never region. I get to watch it go merely through the caverns of my underside. Then as it gets about 3/4 way I start to feel a pain like someone had stuck me with a Samurai sword. It was unbelievable pain of the 11th order. Then he finally reaches the end of the 50 foot garden hose and says, "Ok, now we pull it out." Oh that was like pain on the 22nd order. I finally just close my eyes and try to think how well it will feel after he pulls out the mile of piping that piping that was inside me. He finally reaches the end and says, "you did fine, you also did great on the prep as your bowls were nicely clean." So he says he found one polyp so that means I have to go back in five years. I can absolutely guarantee you with no reservation that I will have someone take me and I will get the joy juice.
Hammy696969
Jun 2, 2013 9:14 PM CDT
What a crack of shi* !