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The U.S. spends far more on health care than any other nation in the world. But Americans aren’t any healthier as a result. In fact, Americans are generally less healthy than citizens in other countries that spend far less on health care. It’s been estimated that as much as 30 percent of health care doesn’t help people get better.

Understanding the impact of health care costs is important.

See health care spending by Washington state

What can patients do?

  • Realize that more expensive care does not necessarily mean it’s better care. There isn’t always a strong relationship between the quality of care and the cost.
  • Talk with your doctor about any recommended treatments to determine if other, lower-cost options may work just as well for you.
  • Use the emergency room only for emergencies. ER visits can be 10 times more expensive than a visit to your primary care doctor.

What should your doctor do?

  • Talk to you about all of your treatment options, when appropriate.
  • Have his or her office staff help you understand the costs associated with your different treatment options.
  • Be willing to take into consideration your concerns about the cost of your treatment.