From The Street Light is this information: Some Statistics on Healthcare..."The productivity of the US health care system is terrible compared to other developed countries"..."in short: the average American receives mediocre-to-bad health care outcomes while paying twice as much as citizens of the rest of the developed world."
Some information that seems relevant to The Street Light's point here can be found at Arnold Kling's post today "Doctors, Pharmaceuticals, and Statisticians", where a study referred to as the "Courage Trial" found that
"angioplasty on average provides no benefit in terms of longevity. The thinking of the researchers is that the other therapies, particularly the medications, take care of the artery problems."
Dr. Kling states "Doctors think that they add value by giving advice on issues such as angioplasty. But the advice of statisticians may be better." According to the American Heart Organization's website, "1,285,000 angioplasties were done in the United States in 2004."
My point: in the US we are spending tons of money on a surgical procedure that appears to offer no benefit to the patient. That would help to explain why our expense/positive health outcome ratio is so poor relative to other countries.