Why US healthcare is different and what you should understand

Here is a visual example of one significant difference. For the record the UK has 6.1 MRI systems per million population.

Is all this good or bad? MRIs cost a great deal of money. A new MRI can cost up to $3,000,000 and the room to house it several hundred thousand. So, if you invest in an MRI, guess what? It has to be used to get your money back. More MRIs, more MRI use. Is that better healthcare? You decide.

America performs far more CT and MRI scans than other countries. There’s ‘virtually no evidence’ that’s helpful, researchers say.

Generally Americans have shorter waits for most healthcare including MRIs. While that can be critical in some cases, it may not always be essential especially for the higher costs we pay.

When proponents of M4A talk of major savings, they rarely make it clear that savings can only be achieved if what we spend on healthcare changes. That cannot be achieved simply by forcing lower prices. It also means changing the amount of healthcare we Americans receive and how we receive it.

Source: https://www.statista.com/statistics/282401/density-of-magnetic-resonance-imaging-units-by-country/


  1. As in other scientific and medical controversial topics, a layperson doesn’t have a clear indication of the correct answer, or if there can even be one. How many MRI’s are unnecessary? American and German doctors apparently are on the side of the more MRI’s the better. British and Finnish doctors think otherwise I guess.

    It is clear that going to a national health care system such as the one in Britain, would require a massive shift in patient expectations and behavior. It seems to me to be highly unlikely that will happen.


  2. This chart brings out several additional points. What is the right number of MRI machines per capita? Are too many tests being ordered in the US? Can one also assume that test are not being ordered in the UK because of long wait times?

    In my experience, I have had a soft tissue injury, one in each knee about 15 years apart. In both cases, the insurance company made me get an x-ray first and the doctors knew that it would not show the injuries. Then I was allowed to get an MRI which showed the muscle tear. Its not like I said, hey I want an MRI today. I believe that in general, MRIs are not overly ordered by honest doctors. Some my order them for CYA purposes to prevent malpractice suits, but I believe that is another issue that affects US healthcare cost too.


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