6 things that cost more in the US than they do abroad

Americans are paying more than people from other countries for some key services.

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Americans are paying more than people from other countries for some key services.
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Ian Walton/Getty Images

  • Americans pay a less than consumers in many countries for myriad products, but they pay much more than their international counterparts for certain services.
  • Education and healthcare are the two areas where citizens of the United States pay significantly more than people from almost any other nation.
  • In many nations, government subsidies dramatically drive down consumer costs, leaving more money in the hands of the citizens.
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In many ways, the average American consumer has things pretty good.

Gasoline costs half as much in the US as it does in most of Europe, and we pay less than most of our European counterparts when it comes to rent and real estate, too. American food prices are relatively low, utilities are comparatively cheap, and clothing is affordable.

But in other areas, Americans are shelling out significantly more cash than citizens of other nations. From internet access fees to drug prices, the US consumer is often forced to pay higher prices than found internationally, and for commodities that can’t easily be skipped.

Here are six things you are paying more for in America than you would if you lived abroad.


American healthcare costs are double those of most other countries

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David McNew/Getty Images

There’s a good reason so many politicians talk about the trouble with America’s healthcare system: It’s a mess. And a costly one, at that. Healthcare spending in the United States is approximately double that of nations with comparable collective incomes.

Yet for all America’s spending, it’s hardly healthier. About 18% of American gross domestic product goes to healthcare spending, while an average of just under 11% of GDP is spent on healthcare in other developed countries.


Internet access costs more in America than in 113 other countries

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Luis Alvarez/Getty Images

According to a study conducted by Fastmetrics, America ranks 114th when it comes to internet pricing per customer. Americans pay an average of $66.20 each month for the privilege of connecting to the World Wide Web, while most of Europe, South America, and Asia pays less than $50 monthly.

In Russia and much of Eastern Europe, web access costs less than $20 a month. Although in two nations, Papua New Guinea and Burkina Faso, people can pay more than $500 a month to get online.


College costs more in the US than it does in all but one other nation

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Drew Angerer/Getty Images

You already know the costs of higher education are absurd in the US – today, Americans spend an average of $30,000 per college student per year. But when you compare our costs to those of other nations, the absurdity only grows clearer.

Read more: The 34 colleges that produced the most US presidents

The US outspends almost every other nation on the planet, and the costs have only increased in recent years. Only Luxembourg outspends the United States on a per-college-student basis. But that money is spent by the government, not the pupil: Education there is free.


The US spends a ridiculous amount of money on its prison population

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Reuters/Lucy Nicholson

America spends an average of $74 billion each year on the penitentiary system. That’s more than the entire gross domestic product of 133 countries. In most states, a single prisoner costs about $31,000 per year.

In New York, the state pays more than $60,000 annually to keep someone locked up. The rise of private prisons run by for profit companies has only made things worse.


Pharmaceuticals are often three times more expensive in America than abroad

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Reuters

Healthcare costs generally are much higher in the US than in most other countries. But when it comes to medicine specifically, Americans are also paying much more than their international peers.

According to Reuters, Americans pay three times more for the world’s 20 top-selling medicines, drugs that account for 15% of total pharmaceutical sales.


And Americans spend more than almost any other nation on childcare

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White House

The average American household with two parents and young children spends about 25% of its annual income on childcare. In actual dollar terms, the annual average is about $9,590.

According to data collected by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, in most developed nations, the average family spends just 15% of its annual income on childcare, largely thanks to government subsidies.