Go to the World Development Indicators on the World Bank Web site (http://www.worldbank.org) and find the latest figure on health care expenditures for industrialized countries.  How does the...

Go to the World Development Indicators on the World Bank Web site (http://www.worldbank.org) and find the latest figure on health care expenditures for industrialized countries.  How does the United States compare with other countries in the latest year?

Asked on by cathy-cobb

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Having looked through the World Bank website, this page is the one that seems to be the best for answering your question.  It gives health expenditures for all countries.  It also gives health expenditures for what it calls “high income” countries.  In this answer, I will discuss health expenditures for the United States as they compare to the overall expenditures for this group of countries.

There are three statistics that are of particular interest with regard to this question.  These are 1) the country’s health expenditures as a percent of its GDP, 2) the percent of health spending that is done by the government, and 3) the per capita spending on health.  In all of these categories, the United States is very different from the rich countries of the world as a group.

The rich countries of the world as a group spend 12.0% of their GDP on health.  The US is almost 50% higher.  It spends 17.9% of its GDP on health.  The governments of the rich countries as a group provide 61.4% of health spending whereas the US government provides only 45.9%.  Finally, the rich countries of the world as a group spend $4,441 for each person in their country.  The US, by contrast, spends $8608.

In short, the US spends much more on health than other rich countries do.  The US also relies on private sources for more of its health expenditures.  Please note that these statistics do not tell us anything about the health outcomes for people in these countries.  Therefore, we cannot conclude that the US has better health care than other countries do.

Sources:

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