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Charted: Life Expectancy vs. Health Spending Per Capita



See this visualization first on the Voronoi app.

A chart comparing several wealthy countries and their life expectancies versus per capita health spending.

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Life Expectancy vs. Health Spending Per Capita

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The COVID-19 pandemic erased nearly two decades of life expectancy gains in America. Meanwhile, U.S. health spending per capita is at the highest level in the world.

We visualize life expectancy and per capita healthcare costs across several wealthy nations. Figures were compiled by Peterson-KFF, and are as of 2022.

America Spends a Lot on Healthcare, For Little Gain

As Peterson–KFF bluntly notes, “the U.S. has the lowest life expectancy amongst large, wealthy countries” while their per capita healthcare cost has moved past $12,500 as of 2022

In fact the U.S. is an outlier for both healthcare costs (+$4,600 from next-highest Germany), and in life expectancy (-3.2 years from Germany).

CountryLife Expectancy (Years)Health Spending Per Capita
🇺🇸 U.S.77.5$12.6K
🇩🇪 Germany80.7$8.0K
🇬🇧 UK80.9$5.5K
🇦🇹 Austria81.1$7.3K
🇨🇦 Canada81.3$6.3K
🇳🇱 Netherlands81.7$6.7K
🇧🇪 Belgium81.8$6.6K
🇫🇷 France82.3$6.6K
🇸🇪 Sweden83.1$6.4K
🇦🇺 Australia83.3$6.4K
🇨🇭 Switzerland83.5$8.0K
🇯🇵 Japan84.1$5.3K

Note: Health spend is measured in PPP-adjusted 2022 U.S. dollars.

From the 12 developed countries in the analysis, the average healthcare per capita cost is at $6,700 with a life expectancy of 82.2 years. Americans spend nearly double the amount while living 5 years less on average. Peterson-KFF also notes that in 1980, the U.S. had similar health spends and life expectancies as all its peers. Trends have since diverged.

Of course, both health care spending and life expectancies are influenced by a variety of socioeconomic factors. For example, the UK has the lowest costs ($5,500) amongst its European peers in the group, thanks in part to its National Health Service.

At the same time, Japan has one of the highest life expectancies in the world (84 years) while its per capita health costs come in at $5,300. Their low red meat intake and high fish consumption are partially credited with maintaining good health in the population.

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