Although the US has the highest health care prices in the world, the specific mechanisms commonly used by other countries to set and update prices are often overlooked, with a tendency to favor strategies such as reducing the use of fee-for-service reimbursement. Comparing policies in three high-income countries (France, Germany, and Japan), we describe how payers and physicians engage in structured fee negotiations and standardize prices in systems where fee-for-service is the main model of outpatient physician reimbursement. The parties involved, the frequency of fee schedule updates, and the scope of the negotiations vary, but all three countries attempt to balance the interests of payers with those of physician associations. Instead of looking for policy importation, this analysis demonstrates the benefits of structuring negotiations and standardizing fee-for-service payments independent of any specific reform proposal, such as single-payer reform and public insurance buy-ins.
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