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Bypass Costs Far Higher in U.S. Than in Canada

Americans pay over 80 percent more for similar outcomes, study finds

WEDNESDAY, July 13, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- Americans undergoing bypass surgery end up with hospital bills 82 percent higher than those of Canadians undergoing the same procedure, a new report finds.

This extra expense in the United States may not bring better results, however: The study found no differences in clinical outcomes between patients treated in the two countries.

Researchers at Jewish General Hospital in Montreal compared the outcomes and costs of treatment of 7,319 Canadian and 4,698 U.S. coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) patients at four Canadian and five U.S. hospitals.

"In-hospital costs of treatment were substantially higher in the United States than in Canada (an average cost of $20,673 vs. $10,373)," the study authors wrote. "After controlling for demographic and clinical differences, [inpatient] length of stay in Canada was 16.8 percent longer than in the United States; there was no difference in in-hospital mortality (death): and the cost in the United States was 82.5 percent higher than in Canada."

The researchers did note pluses and minuses between the two systems in their analysis.

First, they found that the gap in in-hospital expense between the two countries was "almost equally attributable to differences in direct and overhead costs between the Canadian and U.S. hospitals," which they blamed on "higher resource prices for products and labor and higher overhead costs in the United States resulting from a nonsocialized medical system."

On the other hand, they note that "U.S. hospitals also appear to streamline services better to reduce length of stay, a strategy Canadian hospitals might emulate to further reduce treatment costs."

The research is published in the July 11 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine.

More information

The Society of Thoracic Surgeons has more about CABG.

SOURCE: JAMA/Archives journals, news release, July 11, 2005
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