Top Countries Healthcare Spend
Top10 countries that spend the most on health care
By MarketWatch [Published on July 30, 2013]
However counterintuitive, spending more on health care does not result in better health outcomes. Of these top 10 nations with the highest health expenditure per capita, only three are in the top 10 for life expectancy. Residents in top-spending countries like Denmark and the U.S. have life expectancy below the average of 80 years, based on figures from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. Based on figures for the 34 developed nations provided in OECD’s Health Data 2013 release, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the 10 countries where health expenditure per capita was the highest. All data is for 2011, or for the most recent available year. Included in the OECD’s release were a variety of statistics on health spending and costs. These are the countries spending the most on health-care.
Health expenditure per capita: $4,118
Expenditure as a percentage of GDP: 11.6% (3rd highest)
Life expectancy: 82.2 years
Although nine countries in the OECD spent more on health care per person than France’s $4,118, only two countries exceeded France’s health care expense as a percent of GDP of 11.6%. The French have one of the longest life expectancies at birth of any developed nation at 82.2 years despite an above-average percentage of citizens who smoke and the second highest level of alcohol consumption in the OECD. France has made efforts to curb smoking and exposure to smoke in recent years. In 2007, smoking was prohibited in public places, although some residents and businesses have resisted the ban over the years. At left, French President François Hollande, center, visits the Mother and Child Laennec unit at Necker hospital in Paris in July.
Health expenditure per capita: $4,495
Expenditure as a percentage of GDP: 11.3% (4th highest)
Life expectancy: 80.8 years
While it spends nearly $4,500 per person, or 11.3% of GDP, on health care, Germany’s spending growth has been minimal Since 2000, health care expenditures have risen by an average of just 2.0% per year, one of the lowest annual average growth rates in the OECD. Germans have a high number of doctors and nurses per 1,000 residents, and each resident consults a doctor nearly 10 times a year on average. They also apparently have poor evaluations of their own health. In 2011, just 64% of Germans described their health as “good,” versus an OECD average of 69%.
Health expenditure per capita: $4,495
Expenditure as a percentage of GDP: 11.1% (6th highest)
Life expectancy: 79.9 years
Denmark spent $3,827 per person in public funds on health care, more than all but four other countries. This accounted for 85.1% of all spending on health care in the country, the second-highest proportion in the OECD, behind only the Netherlands. Denmark had the second highest number of nurses in the OECD, relative to population, at 15.4 per 1,000 residents. Conversely, it spent the second lowest proportion of any OECD country on pharmaceuticals and other medical supplies, at just 7.4% of all health-care spending.
Health expenditure per capita: $4,522
Expenditure as a percentage of GDP: 11.2% (5th highest)
Life expectancy: 81.0 years
Only four nations spent more than Canada on health care as a percent of GDP. Although the country offers public health care, paid for through taxes under the Canada Health Act, just over 70% of health-care spending came from public funds—below the 72.2% average for the OECD. Despite its above-average spending, Canada had just 2.4 doctors and 2.8 hospital beds per 1,000 residents, both among the lowest for all OECD nations. However, the nation is a major spender on pharmaceutical drugs at $752 per capita each year, higher than every other nation considered except for the U.S. Still, at 16.6% of health-care expenditure, it is in line with the rest of the OECD. At left, Canada’s Defence Minister Peter MacKay talks with children while taking part in a sand castle building competition to raise awareness for children’s health in Ottawa in June.
Health expenditure per capita: $4,546
Expenditure as a percentage of GDP: 10.8% (8th highest)
Life expectancy: 81.1 years
While Austria’s per-capita health spending trails only a handful of developed nations, few countries have had spending grow as little as Austria in recent years. Since 2000, health-care expenditures have risen an average of just 2.3% per year. Austria had 4.8 physicians and 7.7 hospital beds per 1,000 residents, more than nearly all other OECD nations. Despite its high health-care spending, the country had just 7.8 nurses per 1,000 people, below the OECD average of 8.7 nurses. Also, Austria’s high spending did not appear to make residents feel especially healthy; just 69% of residents described their health as “good” in 2011, in line with the average for all OECD nations. At left, a physical therapist helps a patient in Saalfelden, Austria.
Health expenditure per capita: $4,755
Expenditure as a percentage of GDP: 8.2% (11th lowest)
Life expectancy: 81.1 years
Luxembourg spent $4,755 per capita on health care, one of the highest figures among OECD member nations. But because of its high per capita GDP—the second-highest in the world in 2012 at nearly $80,000, according to the IMF—total health-care expenditure equaled just 8.2% of GDP. This was well below the OECD average of 9.3% of a country’s GDP. Public funds accounted for 84% of Luxembourg’s health-care spending, for a total of nearly $4,000 per person. The country has universal health insurance that covers dependent family members, students and the unemployed.
4. The Netherlands
Health expenditure per capita: $5,099
Expenditure as a percentage of GDP: 11.9% (2nd highest)
Life expectancy: 81.3 years
The Netherlands is one of just four nations to spend more than $5,000 per capita on health care. Health spending in the country accounted for 11.9% of GDP, a larger percentage than in any other developed nation except the U.S. Health-care spending has been rapidly rising in the country in recent years, increasing at an annual rate of 5.1% since 2000, among the highest rates of any country considered. Public funding accounted for 85.6% of Dutch health spending, the most of any member country. Public health-care spending has risen faster in the Netherlands than in all but two other countries, at an average of 7.4% per year. At left, The University Medical Centre Groningen in the Netherlands.
Health expenditure per capita: $5,643
Expenditure as a percentage of GDP: 11.0% (7th highest)
Life expectancy: 82.8 years
The Swiss have the longest life expectancy at birth in the OECD, at 82.8 years. By comparison, the life expectancy of an American at birth is just 78.7 years. Likely contributing to the overall health of its residents is Switzerland’s low obesity rate—just 8.1% of residents reported themselves as obese, one of the lowest totals in the OECD and barely more than half the organization’s rate of 15.0%. The country requires residents to buy private health insurance, a program that “successfully delivers much of what the U.S. is trying to achieve” by using the private sector to bring about universal coverage, according to Time magazine.
Health expenditure per capita: $5,669
Expenditure as a percentage of GDP: 9.3% (16th highest)
Life expectancy: 81.4 years
Norway spent $4,813 in public funds per person on health care, the most of any country considered. One thing that may allow Norway to spend so much on health care: the nation is one of the world’s largest oil exporters and, as a result, has a massive budget surplus, and has built up over $700 billion in savings. No member nation or major developing country had a larger budget surplus than Norway at nearly 14% of GDP, according to OECD figures. The country’s residents practiced some of the healthiest behaviour among developed countries. Just 17% of Norwegians smoked, 10% reported they were obese, and alcohol consumption was also among the OECD’s lowest. At left, Norway’s Isabelle Pedersen celebrates her victory in the women’s 100 m hurdles final at the European Athletics U23 Championships July 13.
1. United States
Health expenditure per capita: $8,508
Expenditure as a percentage of GDP: 17.7% (the highest)
Life expectancy: 78.7 years
The U.S. was by far the largest spender on health care at more than $8,500 per person, totalling an unmatched 17.7% of GDP. Just two other nations surveyed by the OECD, Mexico and Chile, joined the U.S. in covering less than half of all medical expenses through public funding. Still, the cost of health care in the U.S. was so high that public expenditures on health still amounted more than $4,000 per person, trailing only Norway. Also, while 90% of residents reported they were in “good” health, the most of any OECD nation, the U.S. led all member nations in obesity by a sizable margin, and had a life expectancy at birth of only 78.7 years—lower than 25 of the 34 OECD nations. At left, a patient waits in the hallway for a room to open up in the emergency room at Ben Taub General Hospital in Houston, Texas.