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The real problem for American health spending, in 2 charts

The Peterson-Kaiser Health System Tracker has put together a great set of charts that show how the United States stacks up against other countries on health-care prices. (Spoiler alert: we're really expensive!)

Two charts in particular show that the United States doesn't have high costs because we use more health care. We have high costs because we pay way more for the care itself.

The charts illustrate this exceptionally well with angioplasty, a procedure that widens the arteries in the heart to restore blood flow. Lately, angioplasties have decreased sharply in the United States (possibly because patients are being treated with drugs instead):

(Peterson-Kaiser Health System Trac

But Americans pay way, way more for each angioplasty than people elsewhere. The average price in the United States is just over $27,000 — more than double what people in Sweden pay and triple the Australian price tag:

(Peterson- Kaiser Health System Tra

A few other slides from Peterson-Kaiser make the same point, showing that Americans tend to go to the doctor significantly less than Europeans do.

The one exception to this rule tends to be with tests and scans. Americans, when they do go to the doctor, seem to get way more MRIs than people elsewhere. But overall, Americans are using less health care, but at way higher prices.