Amid worries over ballooning healthcare costs and inferior care, a study argues that the nation's high levels of cancer spending actually lead to better outcomes for U.S. patients when compared with their European counterparts.
Experts in cancer and healthcare spending, however, were quick to find flaw with the study, criticizing the researchers' choice of metrics and their reliance on older data.
“I find it to be pretty difficult to understand,” Martin Brown, a health economist and chief of the National Cancer Institute's Health Services and Economics Branch, said of the article. “There seems to be a lot of stuff going on in the background and a lot of assumptions being made.”
For the study, which appeared in the April issue of Health Affairs, researchers from the University of Chicago and the University of Southern California used cancer registry data spanning from 1983 through 1999 to estimate cancer survival rates. Using dollar value estimates of additional years of life, they then calculated whether the additional life expectancy of American patients was worth the extra money—$72.1 billion in 2004—that is spent on cancer care in the U.S.