Countries with Most Gov't Spending on Health Care

America's government spends nearly three times as much on health care as any other country; however, other government's have increased their health care spending far more in the last decade.

There will be little surprise to learn that the United States’ government spends the most on health care out of any other country in the world. In fact, America spends nearly triple what the government in second spends on health care.

Using data from the World Health Organization and the World Bank, Bloomberg compiled a list of the countries with the most government spending on health care.

In addition to comparing total government spending no health care, the list provides references for health care spending by comparing it to total health expenditures, which includes preventive and curative health services, family planning, nutrition activities and emergency aid, to the country’s GDP and the government’s total spending. Countries with a GDP of less than $100 billion or with insufficient data were excluded.

The countries are ranked by total government spending, which may put certain countries with larger populations at a slight disadvantage.

10. Spain

Population: 47.27 million (2012)

Total gov’t spending: $94 billion

Per capita spending: $2,228

Percent of GDP (2011): 7%

Percent of GDP (2001): 5.2%

Madrid

Since 2001, Spain’s government spending on health care as a percent of total health expenditures haven’t change much (+3.4%), but health spending as a percent of GDP is up 35% during the decade, which is the second-largest increase.

Spain’s population has the third longest life span in Western Europe, with life expectancy at birth at 82.33 years, which means the country may find its health care spending increasing more as its population continues to age. Luckily, Spain has the fifth-most efficient health care in the world, according to another Bloomberg list.

9. Australia

Population: 22.68 million (2012)

Total gov’t spending: $94 billion

Per capita spending: $4,069

Percent of GDP (2011): 6.2%

Percent of GDP (2001): 5.4%

Sydney

When it comes to health care spending as a percent of GDP, Australia is doing slightly better than Spain. While health care was 5.4% of GDP in 2001 (more than Spain’s) it didn’t increase much — in 2011 health care was 6.2% of GDP, which was less than Spain. Furthermore, health care spending as a percent of total government spending (16.8% in 2011 compared to 15.4% in 2001) didn’t increase as much as most of the countries in the top 10.

One of the things that will increase the burden on Australia’s health care industry and could increase spending by the government is the fact that the country has the third heaviest population in the world. The average weight of an Australian adult is 178.7 pounds, which isn’t far behind America’s average weight of 181.3 pounds.

8. Canada

Population: 34.88 million (2012)

Total gov’t spending: $143 billion

Per capita spending: $3,941

Percent of GDP (2011): 7.9%

Percent of GDP (2001): 6.5%

Toronto

The government of America’s neighbor to the north spends nine times less on health care spending. Plus, health care spending as a percent of total health expenditures is virtually unchanged from 2001 to 2011, even health care spending as a percent of GDP increased by more than 20% in that time.

Canadians have the longest life spans in the Americas with a life expectancy at birth of nearly 81 years, which outlives Americans by more than two years. The country has one of the largest increases in health care cost relative to income — health care has increased $121.97 for every $1,000 increase in income. While per capita health expenditure in Canada increased by 10.11% from 2001 to 2011, income only increased by 8.4%.

7. Italy

Population: 60.92 million

Total gov’t spending: $148 billion

Per capita spending: $2,654

Percent of GDP (2011): 7.3%

Percent of GDP (2001): 6.1%

Venice

Health care spending as a percent of total government spending is just 14.7%, which is the second smallest amount out of the countries in the top 10, although that is up almost 15% from 2001. Health care accounts for 77.2% of Italy’s total health expenditures, which is the second-largest amount in the top 10.

Italy does have the second-most rapidly aging country in the world—20.21% of its population is seniors and another 5.83% are between the ages of 60 and 65. What’s worse, though, is that 30% of workers in the country are economically inactive seniors.

6. United Kingdom

Population: 63.23 million (2012)

Total gov’t spending: $188 billion

Per capita spending: $2,984

Percent of GDP (2011): 7.7%

Percent of GDP (2001): 5.8%

Trafalgar Square in London.

The United Kingdom’s health care spending is 82.7% of the government’s total health expenditures, which is by far the largest amount of the countries in the top 10. Health spending represented 7.7% of GDP in 2011, which was roughly a 33% increase from 5.8% in 2001.

Health care in the U.K. is becoming more expensive for patients as well. From 2001 to 2011 per capita health expenditure increased by 7.17% while income only increased by 4.61%.

5. France

Population: 65.7 million (2012)

Total gov’t spending: $233 billion

Per capita spending: $3,800

Percent of GDP (2011): 8.9%

Percent of GDP (2001): 8.1%

Nice

Although the government spends a lot on health care spending, France is keeping it in check. Health care spending as a percent of total health expenditures actually decreased by 3.4% from 2001 to 2011, and as a percent of total government spending only increased by 1.3%.

The French tend to live more than 22 years after they retire (18 for men and almost 25 for women), which is the second longest retirement in the world and could increase the government’s health care spending.

4. China

Population: 1.351 billion (2012)

Total gov’t spending: $241 billion

Per capita spending: $155

Percent of GDP (2011): 2.9%

Percent of GDP (2001): 1.6%

Beijing

China’s place on this list is solely due to its large population as evident by how little per capita is spent (by far the least among countries in the top 10). However, China does have the largest increases in health care spending over the decade represented. In 2001, health care was just 9.3% of total government spending and in 2011 it was 12.5%. Plus, health care spending increased from just 36% of total health expenditures to 56% in 2011.

It’s unsurprising that China has increased its health spending by so much considering it’s such a fast-growing economy — Bloomberg named it the best emerging market in 2013, the country has the third-best GDP growth and it’s the fourth largest oil producer. However, something that will likely increase the country’s health care spending even more is the fact that it has 112 million people over the age of 65, which is more than 8% of the total population.

3. Germany

Population: 81.89 million (2012)

Total gov’t spending: $285 billion

Per capita spending: $3,698

Percent of GDP (2011): 8.4%

Percent of GDP (2001): 8.3%

Dresden. Photo by Eric and Nancy Anderson

Germany may be spending a lot on health care, but the country has its spending under tight control. It actually decreased health care spending as a percent of total health spending by 4.3% over 10 years. Plus, while health care spending is 8.4% of GDP (the second largest in the top 10), that is virtually unchanged from the 8.3% it was in 2001.

The population is aging fairly rapidly: 20% of the population is currently seniors and another 5% are between the ages of 60 and 65. Plus, like Italy, 30% of workers are economically inactive seniors. The good news for patients, though, is that out-of-pocket health expenditures are just 1.46% of income.

2. Japan

Population: 127.6 million (2012)

Total gov’t spending: $442 billion

Per capita spending: $3,167

Percent of GDP (2011): 7.4%

Percent of GDP (2001): 6.4%

Yokohama. Photo by Patrick Lydon.

From 2001 to 2011 Japan’s government health care spending as a percentage of total health expenditures decreased by 1.7%. However, health spending as a percent of GDP increased by 15%.

Japan is the most rapidly aging country in the world, although Italy is catching up. While 22% of its population is seniors, another 7.3% are in the “pipeline” — meaning they’re between the ages of 60 and 65. Japanese live long lives, too, with a life expectancy at birth of 82.6 years.

1. United States

Population: 313.9 million (2012)

Total gov’t spending: $1.3 trillion

Per capita spending: $3,954

Percent of GDP (2011): 8.2%

Percent of GDP (2001): 6.2%

San Francisco

No surprise here. America’s health care is incredibly costly for both consumers and the government — 19.8% of total government spending is on health care. However, health care only accounts for half of the government’s total health expenditures.

Unfortunately, though, America has the heaviest population in the world, and despite having the highest salaries, our income only increased by 3% from 2001 to 2011 and during that time per capita health expenditure increased 5.47%. Out-of-pocket costs aren’t the worst, though; they cost just 1.95% of income (Greece is looking at 4.76% of income and Switzerland 2.88%).