While much has been written about drug prices, less attention has been paid to medical devices, which account for 6 percent of US health care spending and 7 percent in European Union (EU) countries. In a new study appearing in the October issue of Health Affairs, the first systemic comparison of prices of cardiac implants, Martin Wenzl and Elias Mossialos of the London School of Economics and Political Science used survey data to compare prices for cardiac implants between the US, France, Germany, Italy, and the UK in the years 2006-14. They found that prices were typically highest in the US, where some prices were as much as six times those paid in Germany. For example, in 2014, the mean prices of a drug-eluting stent and a dual-chamber pacemaker were $340 and $1,400 in Germany, compared to $1,400 and $4,200 in the US. The authors also observed that prices varied within all countries except France. They conclude that factors at the health system level, including incentives for hospitals to contain costs, may help explain price variation.
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