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Sun 21 Oct 2007 03:31 PM

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US tops OECD healthcare spending league

The USA has the highest per capita spending on healthcare of any Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) country.

The USA has the highest per capita spending on healthcare of any Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) country.

This is the conclusion of a new study by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Princeton University.

Healthcare prices and higher per capita incomes are major factors for higher US spending, according to researchers. Spending on chronic health issues, such as obesity, alcohol consumption and smoking, also increases expenditure.

The researchers used 2004 data, which was the most recent complete set available for the OECD. They discovered that the USA spent 15.3% of gross domestic product on healthcare, which is substantially higher than any other OECD country.

The United States also spent 3.6 times what the median OECD country spent in 2004 for outpatient care.

Most of the difference between the United States and other countries is attributable to higher spending on physician services.

Researchers also discovered that America has fewer physicians, nurses and hospital beds per capita than the OECD median.

As in most developing countries, chronic diseases such as diabetes, respiratory disease, cerebrovascular disease, heart disease and malignant neoplasm cause a huge number of deaths - two thirds of all deaths in the United States.

The authors called for more attention to be paid to these diseases, acknowledging that this is already beginning to happen.

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