Health spending set to outpace GDP growth to 2030


(Natasha Spencer, Unsplash)

This article is brought to you in association with OECD.

Health expenditure will outpace GDP growth over the next 15 years in almost every OECD country, according to new OECD forecasts. Health spending per capita will grow at an average annual rate of 2.7% across the OECD and will reach 10.2% of GDP by 2030, up from 8.8% in 2018, according to a new OECD report.

Health at a Glance 2019: OECD Indicators says 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%.

Health at a Glance outlines areas where spending could be more effective:

  • Increased use of generic drugs could save costs, but at the moment are only half  the volume of pharmaceuticals sold across OECD countries. Generics accounted for 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.
  • 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. Shifting tasks from doctors to nurses and other health professionals can alleviate cost pressures and improve efficiency.
  • 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.

Health at a Glance 2019 highlights some worrying patterns in health outcomes and unhealthy lifestyles.

A  person born today can expect to live almost 81 years on average in OECD countries. But life expectancy gains have slowed recently in most OECD countries, especially in the United States, France and the Netherlands. 2015 was a particularly bad year, with life expectancy falling in 19 countries.

The causes include rising levels of obesity and diabetes that have made it difficult to maintain previous progress in cutting deaths from heart disease and stroke. Respiratory diseases such as influenza and pneumonia have also claimed more lives in recent years, notably amongst older people.

Opioid-related deaths have increased by about 20% across OECD countries since 2011, and have claimed about 400,000 lives in the United States alone. Opioid-related deaths are also relatively high in Canada, Estonia and Sweden.

Smoking, drinking and obesity continue to cause people to die prematurely and worsen quality of life:

  • Smoking rates are declining, but 18% of adults still smoke daily.
  • Alcohol consumption averaged 9 litres of pure alcohol per person per year across OECD countries, equivalent to almost 100 bottles of wine. Nearly 4% of adults were alcohol dependent.
  • Obesity rates continue to rise in most OECD countries, with 56% of adults overweight or obese and almost one-third of children aged 5-9 overweight.
  • Air pollution caused about 40 deaths per 100,000 people across OECD countries. Death rates were much higher in countries like India and China, at around 140 deaths per 100,000 people.

The report argues that more attention should be placed on patient-reported outcomes and experiences. Preliminary results from OECD’s new initiative on Patient Reported Indicator Surveys show that hip replacements improve an individual’s quality of life – mobility, activity, pain – by around 20%.

“Health systems can and must do better to improve the health of our populations. Measuring how health systems change people’s lives for the better is essential if we are to put resources where they can have most effect,” said Stefano Scarpetta, OECD Director for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs.

Health at a Glance 2019: OECD Indicators, together with country notes for Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the United Kingdom and the United States, is available at


the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

UN health agency welcomes Facebook pledge to stop vaccine misinformation from going viral

The EU now has rules that say household appliances must be easier to fix

Health privatisation: reviving Alma-Ata

eGovernmnet for more efficiency, equality and democracy

Protecting farmers and quality products: vote on EU farm policy reform plans

Healthcare’s a human right, not ‘a privilege for the rich’ UNAIDS argues at Davos

We can’t tell if we’re closing the digital divide without more data

Online radio and news broadcasts: Parliament and Council reach deal

We finally have a life-saving vaccine for Ebola

Here’s why leaders need to care about mental health

Top officials say UN will support Bahamas’ rescue, relief efforts as Hurricane Dorian churns in Atlantic

Reception conditions for asylum-seekers agreed between MEPs and Council

‘Violence, atrocities and impunity’ reign throughout Libya, ICC prosecutor tells UN Security Council

Fostering global citizenship in medical students through exchanges

At the edge of humanity: refugee healthcare in Greece and the EU

Berlin cannot dictate anymore the terms for the enactment of the European Banking Union

Here are three technology trends changing the way you travel

Tech companies could achieve much more by serving the common good. Here’s 3 steps they should take

Number of migrants now growing faster than world population, new UN figures show

LGBTQI+ and medicine

‘Continuing deterioration’ leaves Mali facing critical security level: UN expert

UN chief urges peaceful, free and fair elections in Cameroon

Real EU unemployment rate at 10.2%+4.1%+4.7%: Eurostat Update

Transition between education and employment: how the internship culture is threatening the foundations of our education

UN agency ramps up effort to counter growing nuclear threat from cyberspace

Future fit: 3 ways fashion can be more sustainable

Security Council marks transition from 15 years of UN peacekeeping in Haiti

The ECB ‘accidentally’ followed IMF‘s policy advice for growth and job creation by printing more money

The EU Parliament unanimously rejects Commission’s ideas about ‘seeds’

EU: The Member States to pay for national banking problems

‘Over-reacting is better than non-reacting’ – academics around the world share thoughts on coronavirus

WEF Davos 2016 LIVE: “We need more Schengen but reinforce control!”, France’s Minister of Economy Emmanuel Macron emphasises from Davos

North Macedonia President, credits dialogue and diplomacy for setting a decades-long ‘name dispute’

How ‘small’ is Europe in Big Data?

Free trade agreement between EU and India?

EU Court of Justice invalidates Safe Harbour and the game for thousands US businesses suddenly changes

These Asian economies invested in their people – and it paid off

IMF: World cup and productivity

Migrant children at US border have right to protection and ‘be with their families’: UNICEF chief

For Africa, ‘winds of hope are blowing ever stronger,’ Guterres declares at conference on development

UN highlights profound implication of population trends on sustainable development

ECB settles the bank resolution issue, makes banking union tangible

Greener economies and investment to reduce unemployment and increase global growth

One in three children do not get the nutrition they need

Amazon indigenous groups want to create a nature sanctuary the size of Mexico

It’s a week dedicated to all EU budgets; seven days that can make or break the Union

How women are transforming the Arab world’s start-up scene

People, not technology, shape the future of manufacturing

6 ways to future-proof universities

Turning waste into wealth: World Habitat Day focus on cleaning up cities

Inflation not a problem for Europe

Mainland Europe adopts Germanic cartel business patterns

Climate change brings a host of other risks for businesses

Taxation: Commission refers Portugal to the Court for discriminatory legislation on car registration tax

Encouraging progress made in 2018, in ‘zero tolerance’ effort to end sexual exploitation and abuse across UN

Vaccine hesitancy: a pregnancy related issue?

Water reuse: Commission proposes measures to make it easier and safer for agricultural irrigation

Why are so few women buying into Bitcoin?

Why the world is not as globalized as you think

Iraq: Security Council told ‘despair’ has ‘given way to hope’ but road to stability ‘long and far from easy’

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s