Why Americans Can’t Afford Illness

Why Americans Can't Afford to Get Sick

In the United States, healthcare is more than big business – it is enormous. The $3.2 trillion industry makes up 17.8% of the country’s GDP, making it nearly 1/5 of the American economy. The U.S. healthcare industry employs 13 million people – more than any other industry.

Other wealthy countries pay far less per person for healthcare that the $10,348 the United States spends. Other wealthy countries spend about half as much per person. And that’s because almost everything costs more in the U.S.

American Healthcare Prices vs Other Wealthy Countries

ProcedureCost in U.S.Other CountriesCost
A Day in the Hospital$5,520Spain$424
Appendix Removal$12,000Australia$3,814
Delivering a Baby$10,808Switzerland$7,751
Heart Bypass Surgery$78,318UK$24,059
Knee Replacement$28,184UK$1,845
Prescription drug costs per capita in other countries ranges from $466 to $939.
In the U.S. per capita spending on prescription drugs is $1,443

In some countries healthcare is paid for with taxes so there is no out of pocket expense to individuals. In the U.S. it is quite different.

In the U.S. healthcare expenses are paid by the individual, by health insurance, or a blend of both. In almost all cases in the U.S. when a person gets sick, they will owe money for the medical treatment they receive. The sicker they get, the more they owe.

42.9 Million Americans have unpaid medical bills. The average medical debt is $1,766.

Most workers must pay a hefty deductible out of pocket before insurance pays anything. Most personal bankruptcies are considered “Medical Bankruptcies.”

More than 30% of Americans living in these states have medical debts:

  • Mississippi
  • Arkansas
  • West Virginia
  • Indiana
  • South Carolina
  • Kentucky
  • Missouri

Over 11% of Americans have no health insurance. Even those who do often delay medical care due to out of pocket costs. About 1 in 7 Americans do not get their prescriptions filled because of the expense.

Quite simply, most Americans can’t afford to get sick. Recovering physically from an injury or illness may be much easier and faster than recovering financially.

Medical Costs
Graphic Source: QuickApply