Monday, April 1, 2013

A Comparison of Health Care Costs

The International Federation of Health Plans recently released its Comparative Price Report for 2012.  This report shows us how much various medical procedures cost in a selection of countries including the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Switzerland, Australia, Chile, Spain, the Netherlands, South Africa, France and Argentina.  In the cases of the countries with public health plans (i.e. Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and Switzerland), the data is provided by the government and in the case of the United States, the prices are calculated from a database of over 100 million paid claims representing nearly one hundred health plans and thousands of health care providers.

Let's select a few key procedures and look at a cost comparison for each:

1.) Daily Cost of a Hospital Stay:

2.) Total Hospital and Physician Cost for a Normal Delivery:

3.) Total Hospital and Physician Cost for a Caesarian Section:

4.) Total Hospital and Physician Cost for a Bypass Surgery:

5.) Physician Fees For Routine Office Visit:

Here is a cost comparison for two very commonly prescribed drugs:

6.) Cost of Celebrex:

7.) Cost of Nexium:

Here is a graph showing the overall spending on health care as a percentage of GDP for several nations in the study:

Do you notice a pattern?  In many cases, even the 25th percentile cost in the United States is higher (or close to) the cost in other nations.  That explains the last bar graph, doesn't it?

Now, let's look at some data from UnitedHealth Group, the largest single health carrier in the United States noting that compensation data is taken from the proxy statement filed with the SEC on April 25, 2012:

President and CEO - Stephen J. Helmsley

Base Salary (2011): $1,300,000
Cash Incentive Award (2011): $3,640,000
Long-term Cash Incentive Award (2011): $1,300,000
Long-term Performance Shares (2011): 230,770 shares
Annual RSUs Awarded (2011): 83,195
Total including salary, stock awards and non-equity incentive plan $13,394,832

Mr. Helmsley's 2011 compensation rose by 19 percent from the previous year. 

Here is a graph showing UnitedHealth Group's stock performance compared to the S&P 500 and a Peer Group:

There's nothing particularly outstanding about their stock performance which just slightly outperforms their peers.

Here's a look at a few of UnitedHealth Group's key numbers for 2012:

Revenues: $110,618,000,000
Net Earnings: $5,526,000,000 (increased 7 percent year-over-year)
Revenues from Premiums: $99,728,000,000
Medical Costs: $80,226,000,000
Return on Shareholder Equity: 18.7 percent
Cash and Investments: $29,148,000,000

Now at least we know where at least some of that overspending on American health care ends up!

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