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The Price We Pay

The Price We Pay

Americans spend more on medical care than those in other wealthy countries, but we’re a lot sicker. The Price We Pay will explore the reasons for that and possible solutions to our health care crisis.


Stockholm native Dr. Lars Lund did his medical training at Duke and Columbia. Now he’s a cardiologist and researcher at Sweden’s prestigious Karolinska Institute.
Courtesy Lars Lund
The U.S. spends twice as much on medical care per person than other wealthy countries. That has led to a health care system that’s rich in resources, but with health outcomes that are remarkably poor.


Research shows that experiencing adverse events in childhood -- such as witnessing a violent crime -- can have an effect on health later in life. This building in Grier Heights aims to prevent weapons on its property.
Dana Miller Ervin
Research and data shows social determinants of health are leaving Americans sicker while spending more on health care. In Part 2 of The Price We Pay, we examine how social drivers of health aren't necessarily something we think of when considering health care — but we should.


Taylorsville, NC
Courtesy Gary Herman
Working-age Americans are dying prematurely. You can learn a lot about why by looking at what’s happened in Taylorsville, a small community 60 miles northwest of Charlotte. In Part 3 of "The Price We Pay," WFAE's Dana Miller Ervin looks at how job loss, education and health are linked.


Courtesy Joan Malloch
In 2021, Americans will spend more than $ 4 trillion on health care, and the federal government expects that number to rise even more in the coming years. Costs are growing faster than the economy, and employers and people with commercial insurance coverage are covering a big portion of those bills. In Part 4 of WFAE's series The Price We Pay, reporter Dana Miller Ervin explores why, starting with rising hospital costs.


Pat Moll works on behind-the-scenes health care work at Atrium Health.
Courtesy Carolinas HealthCare System Blue Ridge
It's estimated Americans spend $1 trillion a year on health care administration — more than we spend on Medicare. A study shows a quarter to half is wasted on things only necessary due to the complexity of our health care system.


Brand-name prescription drugs in the United States can cost two-and-a-half times what they do in other countries.
Olga Delawrence
Patients in the United States pay 2 1/2 times more for the same medications than those in other countries. The system leaves some cashing in their life savings to afford medicines like Revlimid.


Staff members work at an eyecarecenter in Charlotte on Aug. 31.
Dana Miller Ervin
The growing role of private equity in U.S. health care is generating a lot of debate and raising a big question: Is the priority patient care or making money?


You may have heard that generic drugs on the U.S. market are essentially the same as brand-name medicines but for less money. While it's true that they're the same chemical entity, overseas manufacturing in some cases calls quality control into question, says Sanford University professor Kevin Schulman. He explains the problem on Part 8 of our series The Price We Pay.


South Carolina's lone Democratic U.S. Representative Jim Clyburn.
U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn
U.S. House of Representatives
Americans are less healthy than people in other wealthy countries, and we spend about twice as much on care. We look at what the government can do and what it has difficulty doing.


PORT Health CEO Tom Savidge, right, speaks with an employee at one of his companies offices in Wilmington, North Carolina.
Dana Miller Ervin
Rising health care costs are a burden on many employers and employees. In Part 10 of The Price We Pay, WFAE's series examining the American health care system, we look at how a number of big and small businesses have been trying to contain those costs.


A woman looks at her fitness tracker.
Investors have been pouring billions of dollars into health AI, and it’s already changing medicine. Scientists are using AI to detect disease before it becomes difficult and expensive to treat, and it’s helping them to streamline research.