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A man with a headache goes to the hospital and is floored by what he learns at checkout.

Why is health care so much more expensive in the United States than the rest of the world?

A man with a headache walks into a hospital and is whisked into the rigmarole of American health care. He's floored by what he learns at the end of his visit. Hint: It isn't his diagnosis. It's his hospital bill.

Follow his unfortunate journey in this funny and eye-opening tour of the U.S. health care system with WE THE ECONOMY:

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The U.S. has the world's most expensive health care. But is it the best in the world?


All GIFs via WE THE ECONOMY.

Survey says: Not even close. The 2015 Social Progress Index ranks the U.S. as 68th (among 133 countries) in health and wellness. And according to a report by the Commonwealth Fund:

"The United States health care system is the most expensive in the world, but ... the U.S. underperforms relative to other countries on most dimensions of performance."

Among the 11 wealthy countries they studied, the U.S. ranked last on health care access, efficiency, and equity. So much for "best in the world," huh?

What's the biggest difference between the health care in the U.S. and the rest of the developed world?

It's "the absence of universal health insurance coverage," say the researchers at the Commonwealth Fund. The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) has insured an additional 16 million Americans, making possible "the largest drop in the uninsured rate in four decades."

And after years of debate and uncertainty over the future of the law, the Supreme Court finally ruled Obamacare subsidies are legit under the Constitution.

But with almost half of all states having refused the Medicaid expansion (because politics works in mysterious stupid ways), over 4 million Americans, mostly across the South, have fallen through the cracks.

Who's to blame for the country's skyrocketing health care costs? If only there were a simple answer.


According to the video, our health care cost conundrum was the result of bad choices by a lot of people who, in looking out for only themselves, placed society at large at risk:

"The insurance companies fought it because they'd be losing money. And the doctors fought it because they would lose money and independence. And a lot of Americans just didn't trust the federal government to run their health care."

Of course, powerful business interests like insurance and pharmaceuticals drive up our costs with political maneuvering and ploys for market control.

Big Pharma: "Otherwise everyone will copy me and drive the price down!"

Insurance: "Yes, it is."

Like millions of people, this story's man of mishap is fed up with greed in American health care.

In a fit of frustration, he demands answers:

"Why can't you charge one price for the whole procedure instead of for every blood test and an aspirin? Why can't hospitals list their prices? And why isn't there price control like there are in other countries?"

Why indeed?

Photo: Jason DeCrow for United Nations Foundation

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