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Sticker Shock on a New Hip Joint

Posted on: 11/30/1999
The purpose of this study was to compare the cost of a total hip replacement (THR) in Canada and the United States. Hospital costs for THRs were collected from three Canadian hospitals and three teaching hospitals in the United States. Patients were very close in age, health, and background.

The authors report that the total cost of THR in the United States is double the cost for the same operation in Canada. Patients stay in the hospital longer in Canada but still have lower costs. The difference seems to be in the cost of the implant.

The cost of joint implants has increased by 212 percent in the United States over the past few years. The same implant from a single source can cost as much as 700 percent more in one hospital than in another. In this study, the researchers found that hip implants cost four times more in American hospitals than in Canadian hospitals.

Overhead costs are also higher in American hospitals. The authors say this is caused by the United States multipayer insurance system. The government-run health care system in Canada has fewer administrative costs.

In summary, the results of this study suggest that Canadian centers try to reduce the length of hospital stay for THRs. At the same time, hospitals in the United States must control the costs of implants.

Jon Antoniou, MD, PhD, et al. In-Hospital Cost of Total Hip Arthroplasty in Canada and the United States. In The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. November 2004. Vol. 86-A. No. 11. Pp. 2435-2439.

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