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OECD releases 2019 Health at a Glance Report

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The OECD in November 2019 released its annual Health at a Glance report for 2019. It provides the latest comparable data and trends on different aspects of the performance of health systems in OECD countries, while providing striking evidence of large variations across countries in indicators of health status and health risks, as well as in the inputs and outputs of health systems.

  • Gains in longevity are stalling, with chronic diseases and mental health illness affecting more people annually. Life expectancy gains in the United States, France, and the Netherlands have slowed. Heart attacks, stroke, and other circulatory diseases count for an increase in premature deaths, while the opioid crisis counts for 400,000 deaths in the United States alone. Better prevention and health care could have averted almost 3 million premature deaths worldwide.
  • Smoking, drinking, and obesity cause premature deaths and worsen quality of life. Alcohol consumption averaged 9 litres yearly, the equivalent of almost 100 bottles of wine, while 18 percent of adults still smoke daily, and obesity rates continue to rise. Air pollution is another factor, causing 40 deaths per 100,000 people across OECD countries.
  • Barriers to access continue to plague the less well-off. The OECD estimates that one in five adults who needed to see a doctor did not do so, while an uptake of cancer screening is the lowest among poor individuals. Waiting times and transportation also hinder access with wait times of over a year in Chile, Estonia, and Poland.
  • Quality of care, while improving in terms of safety and effectiveness, needs to focus more attention on patient-reported outcomes and experiences. Strong primary care systems help to keep people well and treat the most uncomplicated cases, and in countries such as Norway and Iceland, fewer people are dying following heart attacks and strokes. The OECD calls for a deeper understanding of the quality of care by measuring what matters to people.
  • Countries spend a lot on health but they don’t always spend it effectively. The United States spends more on health than all other countries ($10,000 per resident), while Mexico spent the least ($1,150 per resident). Health spending is outpacing economic growth and is expected to continue to do so as the population ages and the demand for long-term care grows. The share of the population over 80 years of age is expected to more than double by 2050.

A full copy of the report can be downloaded here.

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