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News Link • Healthcare Industry

Americans' struggles with medical bills are a foreign concept in other countries

• By Noam N. Levey

And in the Netherlands — one of the few wealthy nations other than the U.S. where patients face a deductible — insurers usually must cover all medical care after the first 385 euros, roughly $431.

Health care in the U.S. has long been unique. But few things so starkly set the American system apart as how much patients pay out of pocket for medical care, even if they have insurance.

"The U.S. likes to see itself on par with other high-income countries," said Jonathan Cylus, a former economist at the Department of Health and Human Services who now studies patient costs internationally at the World Health Organization and European Observatory in London. "The truth is, it's a real outlier."

Nearly all of America's global competitors — whether they have government health plans, such as Britain and Canada, or rely on private insurers, such as Germany and the Netherlands — strictly limit out-of-pocket costs.