Why Is An Appendectomy In The US 10 Times More Expensive Than An Appendectomy In Mexico?

Tyler Durden's picture

Authored by Michael Snyder via The Economic Collapse blog,

This is what can happen when you go to a socialized healthcare system. 

A lot of people out there believe that the United States has a free market healthcare system, but that is actually not true.  The percentage of the population that receives government-subsidized healthcare is rapidly approaching 50 percent, and the healthcare industry may be the most heavily regulated sector of the entire U.S. economy. 

Every year the rules, red tape and regulations seem to get even worse, and every year health insurance premiums rise much faster than the overall rate of inflation.  If we don’t start applying free market principles and start getting healthcare costs under control, our entire healthcare system could very easily implode.

I would like to share with you an excerpt from an article by former DEA agent David Hathaway.  According to Hathaway, the average cost for an appendectomy in the United States is $33,000

My son had an attack of appendicitis late Saturday night. I knew that the Obamacare inflated prices for surgery in the U.S. would be ridiculous and that the service would likely be impersonal, involve long waits, and be nerve-wracking. I have friends in the medical field so I inquired just for grins.


The price for the latest routine appendectomy in my area was, my jaw dropped, $43,000. I read on-line that the average cost for an appendectomy in the U.S. is $33,000. I am not near some of the great direct-pay medical facilities in the U.S. like the Surgery Center of Oklahoma, but I am near Mexico. I chose that option since I have often utilized foreign medical and dental facilities in the past and find the service and prices to be outstanding.

You can buy a very nice brand new car for $33,000.

How in the world did we get to the point where costs have escalated so far out of control?  Should performing an appendectomy really be this expensive?

I can imagine that some of my readers may be thinking that the quality of care down in Mexico is much lower, but this is actually not the case at all.  Here is more from David Hathaway

My son was checked into a private room with private bath and satellite TV awaiting his surgery. The surgical staff was prepped and ready to start within an hour-and-a half of our arrival. The appendix was ruptured, so extra precautions were taken to clean and flush the abdominal cavity. Since the appendix was ruptured, the chief surgeon said that my son should stay two days to receive intravenous antibiotics to prevent the development of peritonitis.

The surgery was a success, and David’s son did stay in the hospital for two full days in order to receive the antibiotics that the doctor suggested.

But despite the extra time, the bill for the appendectomy was still less than 10 percent of what it would have been if the appendectomy had been performed in the United States…

The hospital stay was for 48 hours in a private room where my wife was allowed to spend the nights with my son sleeping on a couch in his room. This cost would have been significantly less if we hadn’t incurred emergency fees and if the appendectomy had not involved complications which required a longer stay and more medication.


Despite all that, I though the total price of $2,830 dollars was very reasonable.

So why can’t we have hospitals like that on our side of the border?

This is yet another example that shows that Obamacare has got to go and that we need to get government out of the healthcare business.

We once had the greatest healthcare system in the history of the world, and we can do it again if we will just return to free market principles.  Elections really matter, and we simply cannot allow the Democrats and the establishment Republicans to take us even further down the road of socialized medicine.

They have already turned our once great healthcare system into a giant disaster zone, and we need to show them the door before they can do even more damage.

*  *  *

Michael Snyder is a Republican candidate for Congress in Idaho’s First Congressional District, and you can learn how you can get involved in the campaign on his official website. His new book entitled “Living A Life That Really Matters” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.

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hedgeless_horseman's picture


According to Hathaway, the average cost for an appendectomy in the United States is $33,000

This is complete horse shit.

This is the average Usual and Customary billed charges for CPT 44970, that nobody ever pays.

The total Medicare allowable for surgeon, facility, and anesthesia is closer to $3,300.

Killtruck's picture

For the same reason doctors load up Type 2 diabetics with bad advice and insulin, instead of telling them to stop eating and start fasting. 


yrad's picture

Cuz in the US you survive the procedure?

Gap Admirer's picture

Yeah, Mexico even gives you free dirt in the wound.  Total bargain now...

I doubt that Mexico has the lawyer-scum problem that the U.S. has.  That's a large portion of the medical bill: lawyer-scum insurance.

ACP's picture

It's pretty obvious.

If you're an illegal alien you get a appendectomy in the US for free.

That's a hell of a lot cheaper than in mexico.

CheapBastard's picture

One problem with "socialized medicine" is that a small percentage of people are paying for the non-payers who abuse the system.

They call this "cost shifting;" this means the cost of the FSA is shifted to folks who either have insurance or are uninusred but have enough assets for the health care provider to go after you for cash payment.

My sister had a simply "trigger finger release" outpatient surgery in a doctor-owned surgi center.


The doctor's bill was $800 and the surgicenter's bill was $3,900 for the 10 minutes operation. The light anesthesia cost $600 which was the bill from the nurse anesthetist.

I told her lets go to Thailand or Taiwan next time for elective surgery if either of us need it and the bill will be 1/10th of that.

Ahmeexnal's picture

$2800 and your kid's left kidney.

shitshitshit's picture

It costs more in the US because americans are fat bastards and we need heavy machinery to dig up their bloated intestines...


jeff montanye's picture

just a guess but maybe everyone in mexico's hospitals gets paid way less than in the u.s.   ya think?  

as far as "free market alternatives" and "lawyer scum", all advanced countries but the u.s. have single payer health care and they pay on average half of what the u.s. does for better results:


Singelguy's picture

That is simply not true. I live in the Netherlands and there are at least 20 different health insurers to choose from, none of them owned or operated by the government. The government has legislated a basic coverage package that costs around $100 per month with a $400 deductible. Everyone is required to have at least basic coverage. There are various add ons that you can purchase for an extra monthly premium, depending on your circumstances. The big difference is that you do not have a vulcher lawyer system waiting to sue the hell out of doctors and hospitals. This keeps the costs reasonably low. I was in hospital here last year without insurance with a thrombosis in my leg. A three day hospital stay with an echogram, MRI and medication cost me $2400 and the hospital didn’t send the bill until 9 months later.

Bigly's picture

I just had a torn meniscus.

Surgeon was 7800, anesthesiologist was 1900.

BLX knocked it down reimbursed them. My copay for both was 260. But I pay >800 a month for my insurance plan. So was it a great deal???  There is no incentive for me NOT to utilize servives at that OOP every month...  

PT's picture

This could have been an informative article but it is not.

How much do doctors get paid in Mexico?
How much do doctors get paid in US?
Price of a hospital and land to put it on in Mexico?
Price of a hospital and land to put it on in US?
Quality of ...
Amount of money doctors have to spend on registration and insurance in Mexico, US ...
Equipment used in procedure ...
Amount of days in hospital ...
Facilities provided ...
Mortality rates ...
Complication rates ...
Interest payments ...
Size of admin ...

Instead we have one data point used for a generic diatribe against a theoretical construct and in favour of an idealized version of another theoretical construct which the author fails to acknowledge loses some important properties whenever it "succeeds" in interfacing with the real world.

Oh yeah, and the ideal Capitalist doctor model is to never heal your patients because then you lose your customers.  Moar profit in managing diseases than making them go away.  Competition will never let that go away because all the cheap doctors go bankrupt.  Think of what McDonalds did to hamburgers and now imagine that as your health care.  Then again, I never eat at McDs.  I prefer the no-brand mum-and-dad hamburger shops that might cost three times more but who gives a shit because you actually get a really really really good hamburger.  Nice way to live for us lucky ones.

cheka's picture

in the US you have nyc standing between you and your doctor.  nothing changes until we remove third party parasites from the transactions.  hiring a doctor to do work for you is no different than hiring a plumber.  no need for third party parasite in the deal

boattrash's picture

I tried to find info like that for hernia repair several years ago, but didn't have any luck. The fact that I was trying to sure as hell freaked Wifey out. She's a bit more accustomed to me now...

HowdyDoody's picture

"diy appendectomy instructions"

The Russians always take it to the next level.


chunga's picture

His name was Pedro Gruber.

snblitz's picture

Diabetes : A bad reaction to eating sugar.

Guess what happens if Diabetic stops eating *sugar?

* and other things the body converts to sugar

Killtruck's picture

Is this a trick question? Diabetes is not a "bad reaction to eating sugar". 

Don't you have some homework to do before Ma puts you to bed?

Dr_Snooz's picture

You're the one who needs to do his homework. Sugar is a well known cause for diabetes, as is corn syrup and other refined sugars.

Antifaschistische's picture

regardless of what it costs...why are there laws that prevent us from crossing a border, voluntarily and saving 80-90% for OUR INSURANCE companies!!!  

we know the answer.

the AMA (government granted) monopoly writes all these laws.

start there...why does this private organization control the supply of ALL health care services.

the same reason the NFL has their monopoly power.

....free markets do not create monopolies.  governments that sell themselves to private interests hand out mnoopolies, by outlawing all competition.

Dr_Snooz's picture

Someone failed top inform Rockefeller of this important fact. He managed to form his monopoly without government help. In fact, government was the only reason his monopoly ended. The sad fact that so many free marketers can't wrap their heads around is that "free" markets start devolving into monopolies the moment they are created, as unscrupulous people begin to conspire and collude to destroy competition and raise prices. Aspiring monopolists are as happy to use hired goons to build their monopolies as they are to use government regulators or crooked politicians. Human sin, not government, is the core problem. 

Can we please stop believing in simplistic fairy tales that pretend to explain how the world works and instead do basic research into how it really DOES work?

iadr's picture

 If you can get abdominal surgery for less than 10K I'd be shocked. I paid more than $3300 to have my lady friends impacted wisdom teeth handled.


Hospitals provide medicare pricing because they are forced to. They make it up on all other clients.

My mother retired from being charge nurse (to those who don't know that merely means shift supervisor for a ward) only a couple years ago- transplant ward, Good Samaritan, Portland OR.

I'm up in Canada, but I know the deal...

CheapBastard's picture

Don't get me started on dental costs!

A root canal runs about $1,200 at least they tell me and the crown or cap is another $1,500 at least I hear.

The Blank Stare's picture

I had a corner of my molar chip off. Painless. The dentist had to drill around the area, make a mold then a replacment cap out of porcelain, then place it.


$340.00 total. My insurance company reimbursed me everything except for the $50. deductible. So basically, I only paid 50 bucks.


Not in the US. Sorry suckers

jmack's picture

  The actual quote from Hathaway,  "I read on-line that the average cost for an appendectomy in the U.S. is $33,000. "







    from the CBSNews link: "A 2009 study showed that appendix removals around the U.S. can range from $1,500 all the way up to $180,000. On average, the surgery costs about $33,000."



TruthHunter's picture

Usual and Customary"  Bullshit. This is a big part  the problem. You'd get more honest pricing from an Iranian carpet merchant.

I question the $3300 medicare figure. That sounds about what the surgical team might get. Total charges would be  more than 10k I'd expect. My limited experience says expect 25-30 % of usual and customary for Medicare.

The Ram's picture

Don't get me started on hosital costs.  I few years back, I had to have an emergency infusion of platelets at Bethesda West Medical Center here in FL.  The procedure is simple and takes about 20 minutes for the actual procedure.  I was at the Hospital all day and they had to 'admit' me to give the platelets.   In the interim, 3 hemotologists stopped by to see me...I should say to 'chat' as they did not write any scripts and did not do any exams.  Without going into the details of the 6 hour ordeal, the total bill 'out of pocket' was almost 5K.  Because I have high deductible medical insurance (I almost never need medical care, but this was a freak situation caused by a careless dentists), I paid for most ot it.  Every hemotologist charged me 300-$400 to look at me....not examine!  

Long story short, I decided to drop my medical insurance and go cash.  If I go to the ER again, I will tell them I will pay cash.  It's cheaper and I will have some negotiating room on the bill.  With insurance, you pay throughout your ass for the insurance, they will cover very little after the deductible, and you essentially will be stuck with something that confers little if no benefit except in the most dire situation (maybe car accident).  The system will crash some day because it is fraud....plain and simple.

snblitz's picture

What do we do hh?

The insurance scam is robbing everyone (patients and doctors) right out in the open and you get more down votes than up votes for stating verifiable facts?

hedgeless_horseman's picture


I answered that very question in my presentation at Marfa.  

The short answer for healthy people is to bet on ourselves to stay healthy with a high deductible and high coinsurance catastrophic medical plan.  Pay the low premium to the insurance company and then save the difference each month in an emergency savings account, not an H.S.A.

If or when you do need healthcare, negotiate with the Business Office Manager to pay the Medicaid Allowable, immediately.  This is usually about 5 to 10% of the Usual and Customary Fees, aka Billed Charges.  

Do not ever let them send the bill to collections!!!

As I illustrated in Marfa, medical providers are highly incentivised to accept this type of offer as payment in full, both before elective care, and especially after emergency care.  I have  successfully negotiated more than a thousand such offers.

Stay out of the Obama care risk pool, unless of course you are also a perpetually pregnant 400 pound diabetic smoker.

PGR88's picture

No he's not full of shit - you are.  I got hit by a hockey puck, and had 4 stitches from my lip to my nose.  The job had to be done by a surgeon who could work on the face.

Because I have a large deductible, I paid the entire bill - $3200.

I can only imagine what they would have charged for an appendectomy.

hedgeless_horseman's picture


Why would anyone think a common appendectomy that can be done by any General Surgeon in a few minutes costs more than an hour plus reconstructive facial surgery done by a sub specialty plastic surgeon?

You keep "imagining" and I will keep knowing.

Oracle of Kypseli's picture

The reasons are...... Lawyers, malpractice insurance costs, over prescribing and testing up the kazu, drug costs and 100 more similar reasons. 

Inzidious's picture

My x girlfriend had a mental breakdown and called a suicide hotline. Ambulance AND police showed up within 60 seconds of her calling (they arrived before she even got off the phone) with a manditory (hence the police) stay in a hospital for 72 hours. The abulance bill alone was over 4000, and the 72 hour stay in a hospital with nothing other than a few calm down drugs and monitoring? 34,000. So yeah.

You can go to hell. Honestly I'm surprised the surgery was under 100,000.

hedgeless_horseman's picture


I may go to Hell but not for trying to educate people that there is a big difference between U&C Billed Charges and the Discounted Contractual Allowables negotiated by CMS for Medicare and Medicaid, and the insurance carriers for their members.

The Medicare fee schedule for every CPT is available online.  They intentionally make this shit difficult, but there is no reason to do so.

The providers bill such high fees to try to force the insurance carriers to negotiate and bring them into their networks.  

Why is that so hard for you to understand?

Regarding your suicidal girlfriend alleged story, these kind of unverified fake-fee personal stories are frequently used to justify Obamacare. 


Peanut Butter Engineer's picture

Hmm so even after insurance you still have to pay $3000 whereas without insurance in Mexico it is also around 3000, wtf is the point of having to pay extra monthly insurance cost again ??

toady's picture

Because they wash their hands in the U.S.?

No, seriously, because the insurance companies/middle men  gotta get theirs.

Joe Mama 3's picture

not only cheaper, but come wit free hip c !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


spag's picture

one wonders how one gets to the hospital in mexico once the wall is up?

warpigs's picture

$1 = $18.86 Pesos.

$2.43/hr is the average in Mexico. 

$22.23/hr for an American.


Bullshit aside, and if delivering medical care to Mexicans, then it will be cheaper in Mexico. 


Let the down votes begin and let's now hear all of the mathematical voodoo bullshit to obfuscate facts and make this topic more annoying than it already is.



GunnerySgtHartman's picture

Thank FDR for this, he started it with his World War II wage freeze.

veritas semper vinces's picture

This . And because we fight wars of aggression all over the world,in the ME for Eretz Israhell,MIIC,and the banking cartel.

wisehiney's picture

Cause if costs beaucoup bucks to teach hospital staff how to discreetly kill off honkys?

ghengis86's picture

Because they also take your other organs to sell?

youarelost's picture

In Mexico you die