Korea Has World's Most Affordable and Effective Cancer Treatment

  • By Kim Kyung-eun

    May 31, 2022 13:22

    Korea tops the world's high-income countries in terms of the cancer survival rate thanks to state-of-the-art treatment at low cost.

    Researchers from Yale School of Medicine and Vassar College compared total medical expenses, cancer treatment expenses, and cancer mortality rates in 2019 of 22 high-income OECD countries and found that Korea had the lowest mortality rate with just 75.5 deaths per 100,000 population.

    The rate for the U.S. was 86.3, ranking seventh after Korea, Japan, Australia, Switzerland, Iceland and Finland, while Denmark had the highest mortality with 113.7. The overall average was 91.4. 

    Korea also had the lowest total healthcare cost per capita at W2.98 million, compared to W12.53 million for the U.S. at the top (US$1=W1,238).

    Korea had the highest ratio of cancer treatment spending to total medical expenses at 9.6 percent, followed by Japan with 7.5 percent, while Sweden had the lowest ratio of 3.7 percent. But in money terms spending here was still low at W290,000 per cancer patient, compared to the W670,000 for the top-ranked U.S. and the overall average of W340,000.

    The study began to find out if cancer patients really benefited from the U.S.' cancer treatment spending, which exceeded US$200 billion in 2020. The country spent more money on healthcare, including cancer research and treatment, than any other over the past decades. Its total healthcare expenditure doubled from $1.9 trillion in 2000 to a staggering $3.8 trillion in 2019.

    But the study suggests that the U.S. did not actually produce any very impressive results in cancer care for the money.

    It was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association last week. 

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