Do US Hospitals Markup the Cost of Prescription Medications?

The United States spends the most on healthcare in the world, which is thought to be partially a result of US hospitals' markup on prescription medications. Medication markups in the US typically are higher than in other developed countries. For example, one brand's esomeprazole pill — used to treat heartburn or gastroesophageal reflux disease — costs eight times more in the US as it does in France. Brand-name rituximab, a prescription drug used to treat cancer, is estimated to have markups as high as 400% in US hospitals. Research has found that US hospitals markup over-the-counter drugs as well. Generic acetaminophen tablets for pain relief have been reported as having markups as high as 10,000% in some US hospitals. Supporters of hospital markups tend to cite the United States' higher malpractice protection costs and the absorption costs of uninsured people who cannot pay as reasons for the increased prices.

More about US healthcare spending:

  • The US spends about 20% of its gross domestic product (GDP) on healthcare.

  • Americans spend about $60 billion US Dollars each week on healthcare.

  • Experts have projected that healthcare costs will increase at a rate three times higher than inflation.
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Discussion Comments


"absorption costs of uninsured people who cannot pay as reasons for the increased prices."

Sounds like a great reason for Obama's health care reforms to me. I'm so glad we have the National Health service here in Britain. Such a shame our government is out to ruin it.

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