Main menu


What Country Spends the Most on Healthcare?

The United States currently ranks first in health spending among the world's developed countries. According to data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the US rate was $ 11,000 per person.

Switzerland had the second highest budget for health care, spending around $ 8,000 per person. Germany and Norway are close to the top three, each spending around $ 6,600 per person.

Countries that spend the most on health

The following list ranks in the top 18 in terms of health spending per capita according to the OECD.

  • United States of America
  • Switzerland
  • Norway
  • Germany
  • Austria
  • Sweden
  • Holland
  • Denmark
  • Luxembourg
  • Belgium xt
  • Canada
  • France
  • Ireland
  • Australia
  • Japan
  • Iceland
  • United Kingdom
  • Finland

Health care spending in the United States

The situation was roughly the same six years ago, in 2014. OECD data lists the US as the country with the highest spending on healthcare, with a per capita share of around $ 9,000. Compare this to Turkey, which spent $ 1,007 per person on healthcare in 2014 and $ 1,340 in 2020, one of the lowest rates of any developed country.

Although the U.S. government has the highest health care budget, much of the cost does not come from the public sector, but instead comes from personal and private health insurance expenses. Countries like Norway (which spends the third largest) have taught a lot about their medicine. Thanks to its surplus of petroleum derivatives, Norway finances much of the country's social medicine and expenditures through the state pension fund (although more costs have recently been shifted to private sources).

The point is, Norway remains one of the healthiest countries despite spending far less than the United States spends on health care ($ 6,647 per person).

The United States spends more on its health care budget in pure dollars per capita and also on the basis of GDP. However, comparing the amount paid on a GDP basis results in slightly different rankings. In 2020, the United States and Switzerland are back in first and second place, spending 17% and 12% of GDP, respectively. Germany moves to third place with 11.7%, followed by France with 11.2%.

However you look at it, it is undeniable that the United States is spending more on health care by a wide margin. The size of this gap can be largely explained by the fragmentation of the health insurance network in the U.S. There are multiple types of payment and insurance companies, each of which provides different services. This lack of federal oversight contrasts with its counterpart in other states, whose governments enforce oversight, setting standards for prices and services, setting a national standard of care.

High health insurance premiums

For most people, the rising cost of health insurance premiums is at the center of concerns about rising health care costs. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), the average annual premium for family health care coverage increased approximately 5% in 2020 to $ 19,616.

The average increase in premium costs in 2020 for people participating in a private plan or health care exchange was $ 201. The two most cited reasons for these increases are changes in policy and lifestyle. of the government.

Government programs like Medicare and Medicaid increased the overall demand for medical services, driving up prices. Additionally, as noted above, increases in the incidence of chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease have had a direct effect on increases in the cost of health care. Mental and chronic health conditions account for 90% of health care costs, and sixty percent of all Americans have chronic illnesses.

High insurance premiums are only part of the picture. Americans are paying for their own money more than ever. The switch to high deductible health plans (HDHP) that may be charged out-of-pocket costs, including deductions, copays, and coinsurance, of up to $ 13,300 per household have been added substantially to the cost of health insurance.

In fact, between 2006 and 2016, the personal costs of Americans with employer-sponsored health coverage increased faster than the costs paid by insurers.

Inefficiency and lack of transparency

Due to the lack of transparency and inherent inefficiency, it is difficult to know the true cost of health care. Most people know that the cost of care is increasing, but with few details and complex bills that are difficult to decipher, it's not easy to know why they are paying.

The Wall Street Journal reported that a hospital found it was charging more than $ 50,000 for knee replacement surgery that costs only between $ 7,300 and $ 10,550. If hospitals don't know the actual cost of the procedure, patients may have a hard time deciding. to buy. When it comes to overall transparency, the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) survey showed that around 17% of healthcare workers believe their organizations have "mature" or "very mature" transparency.

Avoid caring for the sick

Rising costs have caused another casualty: people skip medical care. They do not do it because they are afraid of the doctors, but rather because they fear the bills that come with medical care.

A survey conducted by the Western Health Institute and NORC at the University of Chicago showed that 44% of Americans refused to go to the doctor because of cost concerns. About 40% of those surveyed said they missed a test or treatment for the same reason. In many cases, those who refuse treatment have health insurance. The result of delaying or avoiding treatment is obvious; Ultimately, the care required will be more expensive.