In this article, we will be navigating through healthcare spending across the world while covering the 20 countries with the most expensive healthcare. If you wish to skip our detailed analysis, you can move directly to the 5 Countries with the Most Expensive Healthcare in the World.
Global Spending on Health: An Analysis
Since the pandemic hit the world, government spending on health has been witnessing a sharp rise. As reported by the World Health Organization, health spending was approximately 11% of the global GDP in 2020. High-income nations including Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and the US tend to spend more per person on healthcare and related expenses. Most of the developed nations control healthcare costs using government intervention by negotiating for lower costs for pharmaceutical drugs, equipment, and hospital care. However, the United States continues to lead the remaining nations in health expenditures.
What’s Happening in the United States?
The average American spends more on healthcare as compared to residents in all other countries. The US health spending is growing at a significantly rapid rate relative to the national GDP. On October 4, The Commonwealth Fund reported that the US pays more in administrative costs of insurance and prescription drugs. American physicians and nurses also tend to earn more. All of these factors contribute to the excess spending on healthcare. The prices for branded drugs are higher which accounts for 80% of prescription drug expenditures in the country. The excess US spending ultimately gets reflected in higher prices for the public. Hospital care also adds to the healthcare costs as prices for inpatient services continue to be on the rise in the US.
Health Insurers to the Rescue
Amidst rising healthcare costs in the US, many Americans resort to affordable plans being offered by health insurance providers. Some of these insurance companies include UnitedHealth Group Inc. (NYSE:UNH), Anthem, Inc. (NYSE: ELV), and Centene Corporation (NYSE:CNC).
UnitedHealth Group Inc. (NYSE:UNH) is an American multinational managed healthcare and insurance company. It offers health insurance services under UnitedHealthcare and serves as one of the largest insurance companies globally. On October 5, the company reported that the UnitedHealthcare Surest health plan helps lower out-of-pocket costs for members. Employers across US states who have implemented the plan can reduce health care costs by up to 15% through reduced inpatient hospital admissions and emergency room use. This plan eliminates deductibles and provides information before the treatment thereby motivating more people to undertake preventive care services. Employers in the US with a combined workforce of more than 4.4 million employees have opted to offer Surest as an option for 2024.
Anthem, Inc. (NYSE: ELV) is another leading American health insurance provider. The company offers medical, pharmaceutical, dental, long-term care, and disability plans through affiliated companies. On October 1, the company reported that its affiliated health plans for 2024 will offer Medicare Advantage plans with customizable supplemental benefits. 93% of Medicare-eligible individuals across the United States will have access to these plans. Enhanced prescription drug coverage, lower costs, and better dental care access will be some of the features. Members can also choose how to spend the allowances provided.
Centene Corporation provides affordable and quality health insurance plans for US residents. It also partners with state governments to provide health coverage to eligible low-income adults, children, and pregnant women. On September 27, the company reported that Peach State Health Plan, a care management organization offering innovative healthcare solutions in Georgia, and the Georgia Primary Care Association gave five federally qualified health centers grants in support of school-based health centers in Georgia. This was done through a $1.1 million donation announced by Peach State Health Plan and Centene Corporation (NYSE: CNC). The grants will be used to purchase specialized medical equipment and will improve the health centers serving the students. This initiative will also support the children and families in Georgia who depend on their local school’s health center to treat medical issues.
Simultaneously, you can view the biggest health insurance companies in the world. Now that we have taken a look at healthcare globally, let's move to the 20 countries with the most expensive healthcare in the world.
20 Countries with the Most Expensive Healthcare in the World
In order to compile a list of the 20 countries with the most expensive healthcare in the world, we sourced healthcare data from the OECD. We selected the per capita health spending as our metric. Health spending represents the current health expenditure which includes personal health care such as curative care, rehabilitative care, long-term care, ancillary services, and medical goods. Collective services such as prevention and public health services as well as health administration are also included in this health spending. The latest data was available from 2022.
Finally, we ranked the 20 countries with the most expensive healthcare in the world in ascending order of their health spending.
20 Countries with the Most Expensive Healthcare in the World
Per Capita Health Spending: $4,569
Korea is one of the 20 countries with the most expensive healthcare in the world. Public healthcare has to be paid for by every resident in the nation. Private insurance costs almost as much as public insurance.
UnitedHealth Group Inc. (NYSE:UNH), Anthem, Inc. (NYSE: ELV), and Centene Corporation (NYSE:CNC) continue to make healthcare accessible in the United States.
Per Capita Health Spending: $5,250
Japan has universal public healthcare. Other than paying monthly premiums for public health insurance in Japan, people pay a portion of their medical bills themselves. Thus, Japan is another country with a high per capita spending on healthcare.
Per Capita Health Spending: $5,314
The government of Iceland allocates a substantial portion of its spending to healthcare. The healthcare system in Iceland is universal. The expenditure on healthcare services per capita is high in the country. Iceland has a per capita health spending of $5,314 as estimated for the recent fiscal year, 2022.
17. United Kingdom
Per Capita Health Spending: $5,492
The United Kingdom is another one of the countries with high spending on healthcare. Government-financed healthcare expenditure and spending on preventative care has been on the rise. The residents pay for healthcare needs through their taxes and National Insurance paid out from their salaries.
Per Capita Health Spending: $5,598
Public healthcare in Finland is mainly supported by taxes. Other than certain services such as maternity and child health clinic visits, nurse reception, X-ray examinations, and emergency care, residents need to pay for the rest including ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging, outpatient fees, day surgery costs, and hospital daycare.
Per Capita Health Spending: $6,046
The Irish healthcare system has been a victim of rising costs. Despite a relatively younger population, healthcare is expensive as compared to other European countries. The country also has a high share of government spending on healthcare. Population aging continues to build spending pressures while the healthcare sector has been dealing with underspending in the past.
14. New Zealand
Per Capita Health Spending: $6,060
New Zealand also makes it to the 20 countries with the most expensive healthcare in the world. The healthcare system is government funded under which some services are free. Patients pay a fee to see a general practitioner. Medications not approved by the national health authority are available at high costs.
Per Capita Health Spending: $6,279
Denmark ranks as one of the most costly states in terms of healthcare. The Danish government's healthcare expenditures are substantial. The healthcare spending per capita is also high. Services that have to be paid for include elective cosmetic surgeries, dental care after the age of 18, physiotherapy as well and some medication.
Per Capita Health Spending: $6,319
An aging population, population growth, and the rapid use of health services have led to an increase in per capita health spending in Canada. Especially after the pandemic, healthcare costs are expected to increase further thereby ranking Canada as another state with expensive healthcare.
Per Capita Health Spending: $6,372
With a high per capita spending on healthcare, Australia qualifies as one of the countries with the most expensive healthcare. Health spending has been high especially since the pandemic, in areas such as primary healthcare and hospitalizations.
UnitedHealth Group Inc. (NYSE:UNH), Anthem, Inc. (NYSE: ELV), and Centene Corporation (NYSE:CNC) are well-positioned American insurance providers.
Per Capita Health Spending: $6,436
Luxembourg has one of the most established healthcare systems in Europe. Although reimbursements can be taken, costs for treatments have to be paid upfront. Current expenditures on health per capita have also increased in the country.
Per Capita Health Spending: $6,437
Health expenditure per capita in Sweden is currently above the EU average. Thus, it ranks as one of the 20 countries with the most expensive healthcare in the world. The Swedish public health expenditure constitutes a major portion of the total health spending.
Per Capita Health Spending: $6,600
The share of households with catastrophic health spending in Belgium is one of the highest in Western Europe. This kind of spending refers to not being able to afford basic health care costs. Out-of-pocket payments for medical products and diagnostic tests are especially high in Belgium thereby ranking it as another state with expensive healthcare.
Per Capita Health Spending: $6,629
France is another European country with a high per capita healthcare expenditure. Out-of-pocket costs for certain services such as dentistry and vision have to be paid under the universal public health system.
Per Capita Health Spending: $6,729
The Netherlands also makes it to the 20 countries with the most expensive healthcare in the world. Annual healthcare spending in the country is higher as compared to most of the EU nations. Dutch spending on pharmaceuticals is also high.
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Disclosure: None. 20 Countries with the Most Expensive Healthcare in the World is originally published on Insider Monkey.