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OECD: Health Spending to Outpace Economic Growth by 2050

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Health expenditures will outpace GDP growth over the next 15 years in almost every OECD country, according to the OECD’s Health at a Glance 2019 report, published in November 2019.

The OECD foresees that health spending per capita will grow at an average annual rate of 2.7% across OECD countries and will reach 10.2% of GDP by 2030, up from 8.8% in 2018.

The report notes that the United States spent the most on health care in 2018, equivalent to 16.9% of GDP, above Switzerland, the next highest spending country, at 12.2%.

Germany, France, Sweden, and Japan all spent close to 11% of GDP, while a few countries spent less than 6% of their GDP on health care, including Mexico, Latvia, Luxembourg, and Turkey at 4.2%.

Spending could be more effective, according to the report, which cites some remedies such as:

  • Cost-saving through increased use of generic drugs. At this time, generics count for only half the volume of pharmaceuticals sold across OECD countries. They are more than three-quarters of the volume of pharmaceuticals sold in Chile, Germany, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, but less than one-quarter in Luxembourg and Switzerland in 2017.
  • Shifting tasks from doctors to nurses and other health professionals can alleviate cost pressures and improve efficiency. Health and social systems employ more workers now than ever before, with about one in every ten of all jobs in OECD countries found in health or social care.
  • Increasing patient safety not only improves health, it can also save money. Almost 5% of hospitalised patients had a health care-associated infection in 2015-17.

A full copy of the report can be downloaded here.

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