The real reason American health care is so expensive

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  • Published on:  Thursday, November 30, 2017
  • Hint: single-payer won’t fix America’s health care spending.Help us make more ambitious videos by joining the Vox Video Lab. It gets you exclusive perks, like livestream Q&As with all the Vox creators, a badge that levels up over time, and video extras bringing you closer to our work! Learn more at don't drive up the price by consuming more health care. They don't visit the doctor more than other developed countries:http://international.commonwealthfund...But the price we pay for that visit - for a procedure - it costs way more: price you pay for the same procedure, at the same hospital, may vary enormously depending on what kind of health insurance you have in the US.That's because of bargaining power. Government programs, like Medicare and Medicaid, can ask for a lower price from health service providers because they have the numbers: the hospital has to comply or else risk losing the business of millions of Americans.There are dozens of private health insurance providers in the United States and they each need to bargain for prices with hospitals and doctors. The numbers of people private insurances represent are much less than the government programs. That means a higher price when you go to the doctor or fill a prescription.Uninsured individuals have the least bargaining power. Without any insurance, you will pay the highest price.For more health care policy content, check out The Impact, a podcast about the human consequences of policy-making. is a news website that helps you cut through the noise and understand what's really driving the events in the headlines. Check out to get up to speed on everything from Kurdistan to the Kim Kardashian app. Check out our full video catalog: Vox on Twitter: on Facebook:


  • Saugat Dhar
    Saugat Dhar  a years ago +2689

    Imagine every local grocer refusing to reveal the price of the bread unless you are done eating that bread. Welcome to US healthcare system.

    WAKANDA FOREVER  9 months ago +1970

    I grew up in America and I currently live in West Africa. Just had a tumor removed and it cost me around $500. The same procedure would have cost me at least $15,000 or more in America. Being poor in America is a death sentence.

  • 1000 Comments with under 400 subs challenge

    Every other country: health care
    America: h(EA)lth care

  • Cod4 Wii
    Cod4 Wii  3 months ago +263

    America = Expensive healthcare, expensive college, expensive car loans, expensive home mortgage, etc...

  • Dylan Costo
    Dylan Costo  4 months ago +140

    I had my first severe panic attack and thought I was severely sick so I drove myself to the hospital in Miami, I sat on the ER bed for 30 minutes and started to feel better, I left without treatment and was charged 1,200$. Without. Treatment.

  • This is a username!
    This is a username!  a years ago +7995

    I️ fell ill around 3 years ago in England, had heart palpitations, a fever of 104 and severe chest pain. As an American, I️ was horrified because I️ didn’t have the money to pay to go to the ER and avoided going for three days until I️ almost passed out after eating some food.
    I️ went to the A&E (aka the ER) and they took me in, gave me chest x rays, antibiotics and a room with air conditioning (which apparently what I️ heard from my English friends is a rarity since air conditioners aren’t very common)
    When alone with a nurse I️ started crying because I️ literally used up so much of their resources and wondered how much I️ would have to pay.
    She calmed me down and told me “this was a serious emergency, you won’t be charged don’t worry”
    And at that moment I️ realized the American medical system has conditioned so many people to suffer and live in pain and even perhaps DIE because of the fear of debt.
    I’m alive today because of the NHS, a medical system that is not mine, in a country foreign to me.
    I was lucky, I️ could only imagine what would have happened to me in the states.

  • jon jon
    jon jon  8 months ago +517

    I'll give you the real reason why:
    1. Massive lobbying by pharmaceutical companies.

  • jasonlajoie
    jasonlajoie  9 months ago +496

    I lived the first 30 years of my life in America being told how it is the greatest country on Earth. It didn't take long traveling abroad to see through this lie. I've spent the past 15 years living in Switzerland and have not even gone back to the U.S. for a visit. Best decision of my life, as I've been watching things only get worse over there.

  • De U
    De U  6 months ago +192

    I had two surgeries in the UK while I was studying for my Masters degree (as an International Student) and I didn't have to pay for those surgeries as well as the pre/post-surgical care I got. I feel indebted to that country and that's one of the reasons I have a soft spot for the UK

  • Tyler Olthuizen
    Tyler Olthuizen  9 months ago +439

    No public healthcare and you get shot at school 🤷‍♂️

  • Joe B
    Joe B  9 months ago +131

    The real reason is greed. Period.

  • XO
    XO  4 months ago +39

    GoFundMe is our healthcare lol

  • le Hoarderz Al-Shekelsteins

    pro gun
    pro war
    anti free public health care
    america is so pro life

  • Saidur Rahman Sajal
    Saidur Rahman Sajal  4 months ago +55

    When it is a third world or a developing country, they label it "Corruption" or "Bribing. When it is in the USA, they call it "Influence" or "Lobbying". Americans and their system are not less corrupt or manipulated than the systems of third world/developing, they just sugar coated it. And their politicians are more corrupt than ours. The only difference is, they don't uprise or protest. Even in the poorest of countries, people uprise & rally against govt. When was the last time the USA had a meaningful or social justice movement? last time it was MLK. After him?

  • El Coyote
    El Coyote  4 months ago +13

    Unlike all advanced countries, the U.S. has no universal healthcare system; almost 49M people, soon to have no coverage of any kind. It's like the republicans are missing the empathy-gene, totally lacking in compassion; and common sense, resulting in healthcare system inferior compared to single payer/universal systems in developed countries, like Canada:
    -* administrative overhead for health care: Canada 2% U.S.A. 18%
    -* per capita cost: Canada $5,000 to cover everyone, U.S. $10,000 but tens of millions left uninsured
    -* access to health care:.
    -- in Canada, it is considered a human right.
    -- in the U.S., it is bankrupting millions of families, while maximizing industry profits.
    The U.S., unlike all civilized countries, has no paid maternity leave.
    Under fRump, truckloads of money disappearing from actual health care - squandered to fill up private coffers - and to pay for the insane tax break he gave to the richest 1%. He truly is the dumbest president in U.S. history! And his supporters, the "base": ARE YOU CRAZY?!?
    In case you don't know: hundreds of doctors have moved to Canada to practise, because they are beyond fed-up with the incoherent, unfair, unjust insurance game built into the American health care. The only developed country, so lacking in common sense (and simple math), that they can't see the bleeding obvious: universal healthcare is superior!

  • Adam Ostrowski
    Adam Ostrowski  5 months ago +36

    In Germany we have mandatory health insurance but it's affordable. Right now I pay around 200 € a month. My wife and my son are automatically in my insurance and don't have to pay anything. The insurance covers everything except extra (not necessary) examinations in almoust whole Europa. To be honest I don't want to imagine how life would be without it...

  • svein gerald hansen
    svein gerald hansen  2 months ago +12

    Better than USA?
    is giving Health Care to everybody.
    Like a phoenix emerging from the red-hot ashes is Rwanda coming from the disastrous yet distressing Genocide. Rwanda is a country with the most sought-after healthcare system in Africa. The country’s budget ensures that the health sector gets over 20 percent of funding juxtaposed to the Abuja declaration of 15 percent.
    The health delivery system is used as a best-case scenario by many experts. It is also famed for its success in implementing the community health insurance program which has improved access to quality health for citizens.
    62 % don`t go to Doctors in USA, because they are afraid of the bill.

    Five African countries doing well in attaining universal health coverage
    A healthy nation is a wealthy nation, so goes a saying. Countries that prioritise their healthcare systems are believed to enjoy economic prosperity.

  • Eonkuja
    Eonkuja  1 months ago +16

    In the netherlands you have insurance and you also pay health taxes. Basically, you pay healthcare for others via taxes but when you need healthcare its free for you too

  • Talia Jones
    Talia Jones  a years ago +1107

    I live in the UK, and when I was a kid, my family lived from paycheck to paycheck. My mother had an excruciating pain in her stomach and was rushed to hospital. The doctors found gallstones and conducted keyhole surgery to alleviate the pain, but found a strange lump on her ovary. Turns out that she was in the early stages of ovarian cancer. The doctors brought her in to remove the lump, and conduct a full hysterectomy just to be safe. She spent months in the hospital, and months after that in physical therapy. We had NO MONEY which we could have spared to even cover the basics of this cost, and yet by the time my mother was recovered, the bill was ZERO. The NHS (our healthcare system), paid for it all. If she hadn't been seen, if they hadn't conducted the surgery, they estimate I would have lost my mother at the age of sixteen, three years after diagnosis. I'm twenty now, still in the UK, and I've been to hospital for a broken arm, I've seen the doctor for excruciating headaches, and every time I walk out of there with no debt and no worries, and to this day, myself and my family are in perfect health. No matter what anyone EVER tells you about the NHS, it saved my mother's life, and it saves the life of someone's mother, father, daughter, son, every minute of every day. I would never trade it for the world.

  • Michael Goldberg
    Michael Goldberg  5 months ago +13

    This is one of the biggest downsides of America, all those fools saying "The greatest country in the world!!!" should add in small print:
    Besides those few small issues like our Healthcare system, prison system, killing rate and maybe 99 more problems This is the greatest country in the world!