The real reason American health care is so expensive


Hint: single-payer won’t fix America’s health care spending.

Help us make more ambitious videos by joining the Vox Video Lab. It gets you exclusive perks, like livestream Q&As with all the Vox creators, a badge that levels up over time, and video extras bringing you closer to our work! Learn more at

Americans don’t drive up the price by consuming more health care. They don’t visit the doctor more than other developed countries:

But the price we pay for that visit – for a procedure – it costs way more:

The price you pay for the same procedure, at the same hospital, may vary enormously depending on what kind of health insurance you have in the US.

That’s because of bargaining power. Government programs, like Medicare and Medicaid, can ask for a lower price from health service providers because they have the numbers: the hospital has to comply or else risk losing the business of millions of Americans.

There are dozens of private health insurance providers in the United States and they each need to bargain for prices with hospitals and doctors. The numbers of people private insurances represent are much less than the government programs. That means a higher price when you go to the doctor or fill a prescription.

Uninsured individuals have the least bargaining power. Without any insurance, you will pay the highest price.

For more health care policy content, check out The Impact, a podcast about the human consequences of policy-making. is a news website that helps you cut through the noise and understand what’s really driving the events in the headlines. Check out to get up to speed on everything from Kurdistan to the Kim Kardashian app.

Check out our full video catalog:
Follow Vox on Twitter:
Or on Facebook:

Read more all post Health :
  1. RUSapache says

    I am from Russia, and recently (april 2020) got suspicions to pneumonia and have to buy antibiotic pills (i payed for them). Then when pneumonia was confirmed (fortunately covid-19 was negative) i was forcefully hospitalized. I get food and proper medical treatment for FREE. Recovered in 10 days. Take that capitalists.

  2. whitey g says

    In the U.S., they work with a bigger profit margin. Making a few dollars per patient is not enough profit. Doctors and Hospitals want faster profits and huge paychecks. You wonder why America is more expensive? It's called uncontrolled GREED.

  3. Alex Keyich says

    I saw what you jews did with socialism in soviet union, no thank you !

  4. Quantum Proton says

    For free healthcare in America, have it at state levels. If we can get one state to do it right, other states can follow suit with their own unique details. And eventually, America has its universal healthcare.

  5. Phong Huynh says

    It's a joke, and that's not my quote

  6. John White says

    Because your university education is so expensive so professionals including have to charge more

  7. Glitchy Potato says

    0:15 Protugal?

    You mean… Portugal

  8. Andy says

    Just ask for the bill and then the price will decrease dramatically ?

  9. Farida Gbepo says

    So how much do people pay?

  10. Shelley McRae says

    The system ain’t broken it’s doing it’s job perfectly make money

  11. Luke Wiggins says

    Yet another anti patriotic video from vox… nice.

  12. Pat Veldon says

    The 1% and corporations have convinced with a well funded campaign that health care for all is bad…greedy and soulless billionaires run this country.

  13. Laugh Guaranteed says

    I have been dealing with some issues in my body for the past few years. I do not know go to the doctor because I cannot afford it. I know a lot of people with similar issues. This country needs a fix, especially during this pandemic.

  14. Pradeep Muppavarapu says

    Instead of non-sensible things like 22nd amendment the Congress have to look at the health care system

  15. Tafa says

    Norway is free lol

  16. Porgiepugson says

    You don’t need to make this nearly 6 minutes long, there is one simple conclusion.

    America loves money.

  17. Thalya Sylos says

    Can we also compare the time and cost of becoming a doctor in the US x Other countries? I believe doctors in the US deserve to earn more because they often need 3x times longer of training to become a doctor and hundreds of thousands of dollars more than European countries.

  18. Life of Max says

    Saying America's healthcare is the worst because it is the most expensive is like saying a Ferrari is the worst car because it is the most expensive. Did you know America leads by far in drug development? Say I just went to a store and told you, "I just spent $20! That is expensive!" Your first question would be, " What did you buy?" You see Vox is only stating the cost not the treatment.

  19. Thịnh Phạm says

    What if the public healthcare doesn't work so they have to pay more for private?
    It would be nice to have some interviews of individuals work in or use both private and public healthcare

  20. claraa castilhoo says

    0:22 “PROTUGAL” ?? ??

  21. DizzyMindset says

    So take away incentive to progress medicine?

  22. Skeggi Skjeldarson says

    The real reason for the expensive health care is plain greed.

  23. Juan Padrón says

    There's one huge thing that this video gets incredibly wrong: THE USA DOES NOT HAVE A FREE MARKET HEALTHCARE SYSTEM

  24. tedfaun says

    Really interesting. It is fascinating to see how subtle (or not so subtle) messaging from politicians and the media telling Americans to be scared of a more socialist system penetrates as deep as it does in regards to heathcare. Where does this deep-rooted fear of the state come from? American's love their presidents and country but they also never really trust the state.

  25. David 365 says

    what is the reason come in taxes like norway????

  26. Golden Darc says


  27. Keith Robert Bantug says

    The history to why this happened is very interesting to me. Back then going to the hospital was pretty cheap and not a pain but when insurance companies rose and they requested all hospitals to raise prices so the Insurance companies can get their share of the profit

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.