High U.S. Cancer Care Costs Seem to Be Worth It

Value of additional survival gains in the United States exceed additional health spending

MONDAY, April 9 (HealthDay News) -- For patients with cancer in the United States, the value of additional survival gains have exceeded the additional costs of U.S. health spending compared with European counties, according to a study published in the April issue of Health Affairs.

Tomas Philipson, Ph.D., of the University of Chicago, and colleagues examined survival differences for cancer patients in ten European countries and the United States and compared the relative costs of cancer care.

The researchers found that U.S. cancer patients experienced greater survival gains than patients in European countries. Even after considering the higher U.S. costs, the net value of survival gains for U.S. patients diagnosed with cancer from 1983 to 1999 was $598 billion. The highest value of the additional survival gains was seen for patients with prostate and breast cancer ($627 billion and $173 billion, respectively). Earlier diagnosis was not the sole driver behind the findings.

"Our results indicate that the United States has experienced greater cancer survival gains and that the value of these additional gains exceeded the additional costs of care in the United States during the 1980s and 1990s," the authors write. "Our findings bear on the larger question of whether higher U.S. health care spending is worth it, suggesting -- although not confirming -- that it is."

One author is employed by Bristol-Myers Squibb, which partially funded the study. One author is employed by Precision Health Economics.

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