Disease Prevalences in the United States

Last week I was giving a lecture on quality in health care systems, and showed some slides on the pretty crappy mortality rates in a number of disease processes in the United States.  A student who was paying attention asked if differences in prevalence could account for differences.

Well, they can.  But the differences aren’t in the direction you’d think.  Check this out, from a McKinsey Global Institute report, “Accounting for the cost of U.S. health care: A new look at why Americans spend more“:

So on the left side, you’re seeing the cost of caring for different diseases in the US in order from most expensive to least.  On the right you’re seeing when the US has a lower (orange) or higher (blue) prevalence than comparable countries.

It’s not hard to see there’s more orange than blue.  So much so that reduced prevalences in the US should result in actual cost savings compared to other countries than costing more.  We have less disease, higher costs, and often still more death from those diseases.

How much more data do you need?  The US health care system just isn’t that good.

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