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Understanding Cross-Country Differences in Health Status and Expenditures: Health Prices Matter

Using a general equilibrium heterogeneous agent model featuring health production, we quantify the contribution of health price in explaining cross-country differences in health expenditures and health status. Considering other country-specific explanatory factors, US health prices are estimated to be 33% higher than those of European countries. This price differential explains more than 60% of the difference in health expenditures and more than half of the difference in health status between Europe and the United States. Despite its large impact at the aggregate level, these price differences increase the lifetime cost of living of Americans by 2 percentage points.