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Visualizing Healthcare Spending by Country

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How Much Do OECD Countries Spend on Healthcare?

When you start feeling ill, the first line of defense is typically to have a doctor assess the symptoms—but how much you end up paying for a visit differs greatly by region.

Today’s interactive visualization was created by HealthDataViz consultant Lindsay Betzendahl, who also founded #ProjectHealthViz. The data considers how healthcare spending by country stacks up across the 36 Organization for Economic Cooperation (OECD) members, and how it has changed since 2010.

One thing is clear—the United States comes in first place in each category, but that’s not necessarily a good thing:

🇺🇸 United States🌐 OECD Average
Healthcare Spending (% of GDP)16.9% (#1)8.8%
Admin Costs as % of Health Spend8.3% (#1)*~3%
Per Capita Prices (Current PPPs, USD)$10,586 (#1)$3,992

*Although Costa Rica’s figure was higher in 2016, more recent data is not yet available.

Let’s look at each individual cost category, to see what else we can learn.

What Portion of GDP Goes Towards Health?

Population health is a strong determinant in quality of life. As such, how much a country spends on healthcare as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) can be an important indicator.

The U.S. spends 16.9% of GDP on its healthcare, nearly double the OECD average of 8.8%. That’s also over 4 percentage points (p.p.) above Switzerland, which ranks second with 12.2% healthcare spending by GDP.

The problem? While Switzerland consistently ranks as having one of the best healthcare systems in the world, the U.S. lags behind—which means that expenditures are not always translating into better health outcomes for patients.

Where’s the Money Going?

Looking after the health of millions of people is a lot of work, and this is where spending on healthcare administration and financing comes into play. Funds are allocated to medical resource providers, who manage everything from health records to salaries and insurance bills.

The U.S. spends about 8.3% of its total healthcare expenditures on these complex costs today, which is a marginal increase from 7.5% in 2010. Interestingly, Costa Rica’s healthcare spending on the same metric was even higher in 2016, at 9.5% of the total.

On the bright side, Mexico has been making strides in the past few years: administrative spending plunged from 10.3% in 2013, down to 4.6% in 2017.

Globally, advancements in health-tech are helping to reduce costs by streamlining tedious processes. However, it’s still not enough—and these immense costs trickle down to patients.

How Much Does Each Person Shell Out?

Over the past eight years, a majority of OECD countries have seen their healthcare spending per capita climb, with Luxembourg and Greece being the only exceptions. The average OECD country’s spend was $3,992 per capita in 2018, up from $3,080 in 2010—nearly a 30% increase.

However, the U.S. experiences the most dramatic sticker shock by far. At $10,586 per head, the U.S. average is already more than double the OECD average. What’s more, this is a 33.3% increase from $7,939 in healthcare spending per capita in 2010.

As the U.S. healthcare reform debate around prices and quality of care rages on, it’s important to remember that healthy people are the backbone of any country’s long-term economic growth.

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Healthcare

Which Countries Have Universal Health Coverage?

Most of the world population has universal health coverage (UHC). This map shows which countries do and don’t provide public health coverage.

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Which Countries Have Universal Health Coverage?

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Universal Health Coverage (UHC) means that everyone has access to a full range of health services—from emergency interventions to palliative care—without financial difficulty.

In this graphic, we use data from CEOWorld Magazine to visualize the countries that have UHC versus those that do not, along with how UHC coverage breaks down in terms of the global population.

The State of Universal Health Coverage in the World 

In 2024, 73 of the 195 countries worldwide had UHC, resulting in around 69% of the world’s population having some form of universal healthcare.

CountryUHC?
Albania 🇦🇱Yes
Algeria 🇩🇿Yes
Argentina 🇦🇷Yes
Australia 🇦🇺Yes
Austria 🇦🇹Yes
Bahamas 🇧🇸Yes
Belgium 🇧🇪Yes
Bhutan 🇧🇹Yes
Botswana 🇧🇼Yes
Brazil 🇧🇷Yes
Bulgaria 🇧🇬Yes
Burkina Faso 🇧🇫Yes
Canada 🇨🇦Yes
Chile 🇨🇱Yes
China 🇨🇳Yes
Colombia 🇨🇴Yes
Costa Rica 🇨🇷Yes
Croatia 🇭🇷Yes
Cuba 🇨🇺Yes
Czech Republic 🇨🇿Yes
Denmark 🇩🇰Yes
Egypt 🇪🇬Yes
Finland 🇫🇮Yes
France 🇫🇷Yes
Georgia 🇬🇪Yes
Germany 🇩🇪Yes
Ghana 🇬🇭Yes
Greece 🇬🇷Yes
Hong Kong 🇭🇰Yes
Iceland 🇮🇸Yes
India 🇮🇳Yes
Indonesia 🇮🇩Yes
Ireland 🇮🇪Yes
Israel 🇮🇱Yes
Italy 🇮🇹Yes
Japan 🇯🇵Yes
Kuwait 🇰🇼Yes
Liechtenstein 🇱🇮Yes
Luxembourg 🇱🇺Yes
Macau 🇲🇴Yes
Malaysia 🇲🇾Yes
Maldives 🇲🇻Yes
Mauritius 🇲🇺Yes
Mexico 🇲🇽Yes
Morocco 🇲🇦Yes
Netherlands 🇳🇱Yes
New Zealand 🇳🇿Yes
North Korea 🇰🇵Yes
Norway 🇳🇴Yes
Pakistan 🇵🇰Yes
Peru 🇵🇪Yes
Philippines 🇵🇭Yes
Poland 🇵🇱Yes
Portugal 🇵🇹Yes
Romania 🇷🇴Yes
Russia 🇷🇺Yes
Rwanda 🇷🇼Yes
Serbia 🇷🇸Yes
Seychelles 🇸🇨Yes
Singapore 🇸🇬Yes
South Africa 🇿🇦Yes
South Korea 🇰🇷Yes
Spain 🇪🇸Yes
Sri Lanka 🇱🇰Yes
Suriname 🇸🇷Yes
Sweden 🇸🇪Yes
Switzerland 🇨🇭Yes
Taiwan 🇹🇼Yes
Thailand 🇹🇭Yes
Trinidad and Tobago 🇹🇹Yes
Tunisia 🇹🇳Yes
Turkey 🇹🇷Yes
United Kingdom 🇬🇧Yes

The United States is the only developed country without health coverage for all of its citizens.

As of 2022, the Census Bureau estimated that only 36.1% of Americans were covered by public health insurance. Private health insurance covered 65.6% of the population. This along with other facts has led the U.S. having the world’s highest healthcare spending figure per capita.

The History of Public Health Coverage

Germany was the first country to establish a social health insurance system. Launched in 1883, the program began by covering only blue-collar workers, then slowly expanded its net of those covered.

The first international declaration underlying the need for adequate health care was the Declaration of Alma-Ata in 1978 at the International Conference on Primary Health Care in 1978. The conference’s target was to achieve global UHC by 2000.

The Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion of 1986 also reiterated the “Health for All by the year 2000” goal, ultimately paving the way for more countries to adopt UHC.

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