Special Report

Countries Spending the Most on Health Care

10. Canada
>Health expenditure per capita:
> Expenditure as a pct. of GDP: 10.2%
> Obesity rate: 25.8%
> Life expectancy: 81.5

Canada’s annual health expenditure of $4,351 per capita is the 10th highest in the world. As a share of GDP, health care spending has increased steadily over the past several decades from 6.6% of total GDP in 1980 to 10.2% of GDP in 2013. This compares to an OECD average spending share of 8.9% of GDP. Increased spending in Canada has come with improved health outcomes. Average life expectancy in Canada went from 73 years in 1970 to nearly 82 years in 2013. This was not an especially large improvement compared to many other countries. However, like other wealthy countries, life expectancy in Canada has been among the highest for some time.

Canada is one of a majority of OECD countries with a universal health care system. Universal insurance coverage often increases accessibility to preventative care. As a result, Canadian citizens consult a physician roughly eight times annually on average, a higher consultation rate than in all but nine other countries. Frequent doctor visits may play a role in Canadians’ perception of their own health. Though the measure is somewhat subjective, about 89% of the country’s adults consider themselves to be in good or very good health, a higher share than anywhere else in the world except for New Zealand.

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9. Luxembourg
>Health expenditure per capita:
> Expenditure as a pct. of GDP: N/A
> Obesity rate: 22.7%
> Life expectancy: 81.9

In the small, affluent European nation of Luxembourg, health care spending per capita is among the highest in the world at $4,371. As is nearly always the case, the lion’s share of funding comes from the public sector. Just $762 of Luxembourg’s health expenditure comes from private sources. Luxembourg is quite wealthy. With GDP per capita of $91,048, country residents are the wealthiest in the world. From 2005 through 2013, Luxembourg’s economy contracted by 2.1%, however, unlike all other countries spending the most on health care.

Strong economic conditions and high health care spending help reduce health risk factors and improve medical treatments. Due in part to these improvements, the incidence of mortality from cerebrovascular diseases such as stroke in Luxembourg was reduced by roughly two-thirds since 1990. Only two other countries reported such a strong decline in mortality from cerebrovascular diseases.

8. Austria
>Health expenditure per capita:
> Expenditure as a pct. of GDP: 10.1%
> Obesity rate: 12.4%
> Life expectancy: 81.2

As in most countries spending the most on health care, nearly all of Austria’s 8.5 million citizens have health insurance. Though Austrian citizens have some unhealthy habits, health outcomes in the country are generally very good. While alcohol consumption in the Central European nation is the second highest among countries examined by the OECD, only 12.4% of adults in Austria identify as obese, a lower obesity rate than in all but 10 of the 43 countries the OECD reviewed. As was the case in all of the countries spending the most on health care, health expenditure and life expectancy has increased over the past several decades. Austria spent about 7% of GDP on health care in 1980. By 2013, health care spending had increased to 10.1% of GDP. Over the decades from 1970 to 2013, life expectancy increased by over 10 years from 70 to 81, a slightly faster improvement than the OECD average change.

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