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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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COVID-19

The 7 Best COVID-19 Resources We’ve Discovered So Far

With so much misinformation spreading on the pandemic, we’ve compiled a quality list of data-driven and unbiased COVID-19 resources for you to use.

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With all eyes on the COVID-19 pandemic and how its impact will be felt over the coming weeks and months, people are being bombarded with all kinds of noise and speculation.

Between a deadly virus, looming economic effects, and numerous government shutdowns, it’s clear that a fertile breeding ground has been created for misinformation, rumors, conspiracy theories, hot takes, and other potentially misleading content.

7 Indispensable COVID-19 Resources

At Visual Capitalist, it’s our goal to use data-driven visuals to explain the world around us.

In the last week alone, we’ve had more than 10 million people visit our site — many of them trying to understand more about COVID-19 and its effects on the economy and society.

With that in mind, we thought we’d curate a list of quality information on the virus and its impact. These COVID-19 resources are all from fact-driven, reliable sources, with some of them even being created by our in-house team and shared to our free daily mailing list.

On the below list, we start with the more contextual resources (understanding how the virus works, pandemic history, etc.) and then progress to real-time dashboards and up-to-date data.

Click any image below to see the full resource or dashboard. Many are updated daily or in real-time.

1. How Coronaviruses Work

How Coronaviruses Work

What is a coronavirus, and how does COVID-19 fit into the mix?

This educational scrolling infographic by SCMP walks you through some of the more familiar types of coronaviruses, how they spread, and how they affect the human body.

It also relates COVID-19 to other coronaviruses that cause diseases such as Mers, Sars, and even the common cold.

2. The History of Pandemics

The History of Pandemics

On March 11th, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic.

In this infographic, we look at the data to show you the history of pandemics — all the way from the Black Death to how the current COVID-19 situation. It helps give the historical context on how bad a pandemic can be. It’s also updated every day so you can see how COVID-19 compares to the impact of these previous events.

3. Coronavirus Simulator: Limiting the Exponential Spread

Coronavirus Simulator

Why does the virus spread at an exponential rate, and what techniques can be used to mitigate that spread?

This fantastic interactive page by the Washington Post actively simulates what happens when the virus spreads normally, contrasting it to how it may spread in a forced quarantine environment or when social distancing is practiced.

4. Real-time COVID-19 Map

Johns Hopkins: Real-time Coronavirus Map

If you haven’t seen this useful real-time dashboard by Johns Hopkins University yet, it’s worth bookmarking right now.

We check the resource every day, and it has the latest numbers for COVID-19 cases, deaths, recoveries, and more — and it’s all sorted by country and/or state and province. Importantly, it also updates in real-time, so you always know you are getting the latest numbers.

5. Which Countries are “Flattening the Curve”?

Our post on which countries are “flattening the curve” has had over a million views in the last week alone, and it features the above interactive graph from Our World in Data.

Go to the post itself to see a bigger version of the logarithmic chart, which plots the progress of different countries in flattening the curves of COVID-19 infections. The interactive chart updates daily based on the latest numbers, and you can actually search for any country by using the “Search” button. Using the filters on the right side, you can also sort by region as well.

6. Tracking the Coronavirus: The Latest Figures

Tracking the Coronavirus: The Latest Figures as it Spreads

Even though the Financial Times is a subscription-based website, it recently published this useful COVID-19 dashboard and made it accessible to everyone.

It features various charts and tables on the countries affected, as well as ongoing assessments on the economic damage caused by the virus. Like many of the other COVID-19 resources featured on this list, it is updated on a daily basis.

7. COVID-19 Stats and Research

The above graphic is one of many available on Our World in Data, a fantastic initiative led by economist Max Roser.

Their coronavirus research page has tons of stats, citations, and data for those that want to dive deeper into the situation. It’s also updated very regularly.

Bonus: The Coronavirus Explained, and What You Should Do

While this is less data-driven than the other pieces of content, this animated video by Kurzgesagt still provides a handy explainer on how the virus works.

It’s about eight minutes long, and might help you fill other knowledge gaps.

Please Share These Resources

At a time when misinformation can be dangerous and even deadly, it is worth spreading the above COVID-19 resources to your friends, family, and colleagues.

Many of the above resources are updated daily or they contain evergreen information, meaning they are not going to go out of date any time soon.

Wishing you a safe next few months,
– The Visual Capitalist team

PS: If you have any other great resources to share, please post them in the comments!

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Chart of the Week

Ranked: Global Pandemic Preparedness by Country

This interesting pre-COVID19 report ranked countries by their level of preparedness for the outbreak of infectious diseases and pandemics

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Global Health Security Index

Ranked: Global Pandemic Preparedness by Country

The world has experienced many pandemics throughout its history, but not every era has had the benefit of modern medicine and hindsight.

However, even with the readily available medical expertise and equipment that exists today, it is still unevenly distributed throughout the globe. Combine this with a highly interconnected global economy, and large populations are still at risk from infection.

Today’s chart pulls data from the 2019 Global Health Security Index, which ranks 195 countries on health security. It reveals that while there were top performers, healthcare systems around the world on average are fundamentally weak—and not prepared for new disease outbreaks.

Pathways for Commerce and Disease

Modern transportation and trade have linked the farthest stretches of the world to fuel a global economy. Physical distance plays less a limiting role and more an enabling one to form a flat world as Thomas Friedman put it, creating opportunities for commerce anywhere in the world.

A person can sell dishware from his home in Cusco, Peru, online to a customer in Muncie, Indiana, with products manufactured in China, from materials sourced in Africa.

While these connections sound sterile, there are people interacting with one another to procure, manufacture, package, and distribute the goods. The connections are not just through products, but also people and animals across many borders.

Now, add up the interactions within the global food supply chain with plants and livestock and tourism industries and place them under the pressures of climate change, urbanization, international mass displacement, and migration—and the volume and variety of opportunities for disease transmission and mutation becomes infinite.

The same pathways of global commerce become the transmission vectors for disease. A cough in Dubai can become a fever in London with one flight and one day.

You Cannot Manage What You Do Not Measure

Despite this, we still live with national healthcare systems that look inward towards national populations, with less of a focus on integrating what is happening with the outside world.

The Global Health Security (GHS) Index is the first comprehensive effort to assess and benchmark health security and related capabilities by nation, and it tracks six key factors to come up with an overall score for each of the 195 countries in the ranking:

  1. Prevention
    Prevention of the emergence or release of pathogens
  2. Detection and Reporting
    Early detection and reporting for epidemics of potential international concern
  3. Rapid Response
    Capability of rapidly responding to and mitigating the spread of an epidemic
  4. Health System
    Sufficient and robust and health system to treat the sick and protect health workers
  5. Compliance with Global Norms
    Compliance with international norms by improving national capacity, financing plans to address gaps
  6. Risk Environment
    Risk environment and country vulnerability to biological threats

Note: The GHS Index is a project of the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) and the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security (JHU), and was developed with The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).

Country Overall Rankings

Overall, the rankings uncover a distressing insight. Global preparedness for both epidemics and pandemics is weak, with the average score in the index sitting at 40.2 out of 100.

The countries with the highest scores have effective governance and politics systems in place, while those with the lowest scores fall down for their inadequate healthcare systems—even among high-income countries.

Here are the 50 highest-ranking countries in the index:

RankCountryGHS Index Score
#1🇺🇸 United States83.5
#2🇬🇧 United Kingdom77.9
#3🇳🇱 Netherlands75.6
#4🇦🇺 Australia75.5
#5🇨🇦 Canada75.3
#6🇹🇭 Thailand73.2
#7🇸🇪 Sweden72.1
#8🇩🇰 Denmark70.4
#9🇰🇷 South Korea70.2
#10🇫🇮 Finland68.7
#11France68.2
#12Slovenia67.2
#13Switzerland67
#14Germany66
#15Spain65.9
#16Norway64.6
#17Latvia62.9
#18Malaysia62.2
#19Belgium61
#20Portugal60.3
#21Japan59.8
#22Brazil59.7
#23Ireland59
#24Singapore58.7
#25Argentina58.6
#26Austria58.5
#27Chile58.3
#28Mexico57.6
#29Estonia57
#30Indonesia56.6
#31Italy56.2
#32Poland55.4
#33Lithuania55
#34South Africa54.8
#35Hungary54
#35New Zealand54
#37Greece53.8
#38Croatia53.3
#39Albania52.9
#40Turkey52.4
#41Serbia52.3
#42Czech Republic52
#42Georgia52
#44Armenia50.2
#45Ecuador50.1
#46Mongolia49.5
#47Kyrgyz Republic49.3
#47Saudi Arabia49.3
#49Peru49.2
#50Vietnam49.1

You can view the complete rankings of all 195 countries on the GHS Index website.

Interestingly, 81% of countries score in the bottom tier for indicators related to biosecurity—and worse, 85% of countries show no evidence of having completed a biological threat-focused simulation exercise in conjunction with the World Health Organization (WHO) in the past year.

Confirmed COVID-19 Cases vs. Global Health Security Score

Many healthcare systems have had their security tested with the outbreak of COVID-19.

global health secutiry score vs covid19 cases

Although it is still extremely early, there appears to be a relationship between a nation’s health security and its ability to cope with pandemics.

Takeaways: A World Unprepared

While there may be top performers relative to other countries, the overall picture paints a grim picture that foreshadowed the current crisis we are living through.

“It is likely that the world will continue to face outbreaks that most countries are ill positioned to combat. In addition to climate change and urbanization, international mass displacement and migration—now happening in nearly every corner of the world—create ideal conditions for the emergence and spread of pathogens.” – The Global Health Security Index, 2019

The report outlined eight critical insights about global health security in 2019 that reveal some of the problems countries are now facing.

  1. National health security is fundamentally weak globally. No country is fully prepared for epidemics or pandemics, and every country has important gaps to address.
  2. Countries are not prepared for a globally catastrophic biological event.
  3. There is little evidence that most countries have tested important health security capacities or shown that they would be functional in a crisis.
  4. Most countries have not allocated funding from national budgets to fill identified preparedness gaps.
  5. More than half of countries face major political and security risks that could undermine national capability to combat biological threats.
  6. Most countries lack basic health systems capacities critical for epidemic and pandemic response.
  7. Coordination and training are inadequate among veterinary, wildlife, and public health professionals and policymakers.
  8. Improving country compliance with international health and security norms is essential.

A Stark Reality

The intention of the Global Health Security Index is to encourage improvements in the planning and response to one of the world’s most omnipresent risks–infectious disease outbreaks. When this report was released in 2019, it revealed that even the highest ranking nations still had gaps to fill in preparing for a pandemic.

Of course, hindsight is 20/20. The COVID-19 outbreak has served as a wake-up call to health organizations and governments around the world. Once all of the curves have been flattened, the next version of this report will undoubtedly be viewed with renewed interest.

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