Healthcare Economy

Countries Spending the Most on Health Care

5 Luxembourg
> Health expenditure per capita: $4,755
> Expenditure as a pct. of GDP: 8.2% (11th lowest)
> Pct. obese: N/A
> 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 dependant family members, students and the unemployed.

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4. The Netherlands
> Health expenditure per capita: $5,099
> Expenditure as a pct. of GDP: 11.9% (2nd highest)
> Pct. obese: 11.4%
> 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.

3. Switzerland
> Health expenditure per capita: $5,643
> Expenditure as a pc t. of GDP: 11.0% (7th highest)
> Pct. obese: 8.1%
> 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.

2. Norway
> Health expenditure per capita: $5,669
> Expenditure as a pct. of GDP: 9.3% (16th highest)
> Pct. obese: 10.0%
> 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 behavior among developed countries. Just 17% of Norwegians smoked, 10% reported they were obese, and alcohol consumption was also among the OECD’s lowest.

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1. United States
> Health expenditure per capita: $8,508
> Expenditure as a pct. of GDP: 17.7% (the highest)
> Pct. obese: 28.5%
> Life expectancy: 78.7 years

The U.S. was by far the largest spender on health care at over $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 sizeable margin, and had a life expectancy at birth of only 78.7 years — lower than 25 of the 34 OECD nations.

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