Global Health Care Costs

A look at the contradiction between health care spending and actual treatment. The US which spends more on private sector health care spending, still also has one of the highest levels of government spending on health care per capita. Furthermore, health care costs continue to rise, and place one of the greatest strains on government spending commitments in the developed world.

total health care spending - list of countries

This graph shows total health care expenditure (including both public and private spending). The biggest spender by a long way is the US, which spends over $8,000 per capita. This compares to less than $3,000 per capita for Italy, Greece and Portugal.

Hospital Beds per 1,000 Population density


Admittedly, the number of hospital beds per 1,000 of the population is not a comprehensive guide to the quality of health care. But, it is still interesting that the US has one of the lowest numbers of hospital beds per 1,000 (3.1) – despite the much higher total spending. Japan has the highest number of hospital beds at 13.7/1000 – yet quite a modest total health care bill.

On other measures, US seems to get poor performance from its spending.

% of health care spending as % of GDP Govt spending as % of total health care Per Capita expenditure 2006 (PPP) Doctors per 10,000 population Nurses / midwives per 10,000 Hospital beds per 10,000 Life Expectancy male obesity
UK 8.2 87.3 2815 23 128 39 80 22%
US 15.3 45.3 6719 26 94 31 78 31%

US v UK health care costs)

Rising Health Care Costs

source: KFF

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