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Healthcare costs by country

How does the US compare to the rest of the world on hospital costs and medical care? 

The US is often the butt of the joke internationally for its seemingly outrageous hospital costs. For example, the US spent $3.8 trillion on healthcare goods and services in 2019 or $11,582 per person, according to the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. That figure was projected to increase to $4.22 trillion in 2021 –and that estimate doesn’t include the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic (more on this later).

All told, healthcare costs are estimated to grow at an annual rate of 5.4% until 2028, when it’s expected to hit an average $6.19 trillion.

While these amounts admittedly sound outlandish, Finder thought it’d be interesting to see how they compare to other nations. We looked at not only medical costs around the world but also how much it’d cost your average Jane or Joe to spend the night in a hospital.

How does the US compare on a night in the hospital?

Before we dive into messy healthcare expenditures (hint: the US is the biggest spender by far), it might shock you to hear when it comes to the cost of a night in the hospital, the US isn’t the most expensive. That title goes to Monaco, where you’ll pay an average $4,765 a night in the hospital.

The US lands at No. 17, where the cost of a nightly bed is (ahem) only $888.

Other notably expensive countries to spend the night at a hospital include Luxembourg at $2,509, Norway at $1,858, Qatar at $1,810 and Switzerland at $1,221.

To see how a night in the hospital compares to the cost of a five-star hotel, as well as a travel insurance policy, read our list of the most expensive countries for hospitalization.

Cost of a night in a hospital bed

RankCountryCost of a night in a hospital bed
1Monaco$4,766
2Luxembourg$2,509
3Norway$1,858
4Qatar$1,810
5Switzerland$1,221
6San Marino$1,169
7Denmark$1,119
8Ireland$1,113
9United Arab Emirates$1,005
10Netherlands$983
11Sweden$957
12Kuwait$957
13Iceland$954
14Finland$918
15Austria$903
16Australia$894
17United States of America$888
18Belgium$846
19Canada$821
20Singapore$811
21Germany$799
22France$789
23United Kingdom$781
24Brunei$697
25Japan$680
26Italy$673
27Spain$613
28Cyprus$552
29Greece$530
30New Zealand$508
31Bahrain$508
32Equatorial Guinea$494
33Israel$470
34Slovenia$463
35Portugal$398
36Oman$371
37Malta$367
38Czech Republic$346
39Bahamas$340
40Trinidad and Tobago$328
41Republic of Korea$325
42Saudi Arabia$310
43Andorra$302
44Slovakia$286
45Estonia$285
46Croatia$250
47Hungary$249
48Barbados$235
49Latvia$234
50Libyan Arab Jamahirya$233
51Lithuania$225
52Antigua and Barbuda$225
53Poland$217
54Russian Federation$189
55Seychelles$179
56Saint Kitts and Nevis$169
57Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of)$162
58Niue$156
59Turkey$153
60Mexico$153
61Chile$153
62Gabon$151
63Romania$144
64Uruguay$136
65Kazakhstan$123
66Argentina$123
67Malaysia$123
68Palau$122
69Cook Islands$115
70Montenegro$109
71Mauritius$106
72Botswana$104
73Lebanon$103
74Bulgaria$101
75Panama$100
76Costa Rica$94
77Belarus$91
78Grenada$89
79Saint Lucia$81
80South Africa$78
81Dominica$78
82Suriname$78
83Azerbaijan$77
84Colombia$74
85Saint Vincent and the Grenadines$73
86Jamaica$72
87The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia$68
88Algeria$68
89Serbia$67
90Bosnia$67
91Cuba$66
92Iran$66
93Dominican Republic$61
94Peru$61
95Belize$59
96Albania$56
97Angola$55
98Ecuador$55
99Thailand$54
100Tunisia$54
101Namibia$53
102Maldives$52
103Ukraine$52
104Fiji$51
105Turkmenistan$48
106Armenia$48
107El Salvador$47
108Nauru$45
109China$43
110Jordan$43
111Cape Verde$41
112Tonga$39
113Iraq$38
114Samoa$37
115Georgia$36
116Congo$35
117Guatemala$35
118Morocco$33
119Paraguay$33
120Vanuatu$31
121Tuvalu$31
122Swaziland$30
123Syrian Arab Republic$27
124Indonesia$26
125Micronesia (Federated States of)$26
126Marshall Islands$25
127Egypt$25
128Sri Lanka$24
129Brazil$23
130Honduras$22
131Mongolia$22
132Bhutan$22
133Philippines$21
134Bolivia$20
135Republic of Moldova$19
136Guyana$17
137Nigeria$15
138Kiribati$15
139Sudan$15
140Solomon Islands$14
141Yemen$13
142Cameroon$13
143Papua New Guinea$13
144Nicaragua$12
145Djibouti$12
146Sao Tome and Principe$12
147India$12
148Uzbekistan$11
149Vietnam$11
150Cote d’Ivoire$11
151Zambia$11
152Senegal$11
153Mauritania$11
154Kyrgyzstan$10
155Lao People’s Democratic Republic$9
156Pakistan$9
157Cambodia$8
158Lesotho$8
159Tajikistan$8
160Kenya$8
161Benin$8
162Comoros$7
163Chad$7
164Ghana$7
165Mali$6
166Togo$6
167Haiti$6
168Afghanistan$6
169Democratic People’s Republic of Korea$5
170Uganda$5
171Bangladesh$5
172Gambia$5
173Myanmar$5
174United Republic of Tanzania$5
175Timor-Leste$5
176Madagascar$4
177Rwanda$4
178Central African Republic$4
179Mozambique$4
180Nepal$4
181Guinea$4
182Niger$3
183Sierra Leone$3
184Ethiopia$3
185Eritrea$3
186Malawi$2
187Guinea-Bissau$2
188Liberia$2
189Democratic Republic of the Congo$1

How does the US compare on healthcare expenditure?

Quite simply, it doesn’t. While the US ranks 17th for the cost of spending the night in hospital, it’s top of the charts for healthcare costs.

The US spent $11,072 per capita on healthcare in 2019, according to OECD, which ranks the country highest among the 184 countries and territories included in the comparison. To put this in perspective, America spends almost 43% more per capita than its closest competitor, Switzerland, which spends $7,732 per capita.

Per capita healthcare expenditure

CountryHealth Expenditure per capita, USD PPPHealth Expenditure as a share of GDP (%)
United States$11,07216.9%
Switzerland$7,73211.9%
Norway$6,64710.0%
Germany$6,64611.5%
Sweden$5,78210.9%
Austria$5,85110.3%
Denmark$5,56810.1%
Netherlands$5,76510.0%
Luxembourg5,5585.3%
Australia5,1879.3%
Canada5,41810.8%
France5,37611.3%
Belgium5,42810.3%
Ireland5,2766.9%
Japan4,82311.0%
Iceland4,8118.5%
Finland4,5789.0%
United Kingdom4,65310.0%
New Zealand4,2049.2%
Italy3,6498.7%
Spain3,6169.0%
Korea3,3847.6%
Czech Republic3,4287.6%
Portugal3,3799.4%
Slovenia3,2248.3%
Israel2,9327.5%
Lithuania2,6386.6%
Slovak Republic2,3546.7%
Greece2,3847.7%
Estonia2,5796.7%
Chile2,1599.1%
Poland2,2306.3%
Hungary2,2226.7%
Latvia1,9736.2%
Turkey1,3374.2%
Mexico1,1545.5%

When you compare the US’s per capita spending to the average of OECD member countries, the US spends 165.04% more.

GDP per capita vs. health expenditure per capita

If we look at healthcare spending across OECD nations, a general trend appears: The higher the per capita GDP of a country, the higher the per capita healthcare expenditure. In fact, there’s a strong linear relationship between GDP per capita and health spending per capita.

Two major outliers are the US, whose per capita healthcare expenditure far exceeds that of nations with a similar per capita GDP, and Luxembourg, whose per capita healthcare expenditure is close to that of nations with a per capita GDP of half the size.

Health expenditure per capita vs GDP per capita

CountryHealth Expenditure per capita, USD PPPGDP per capita USD, PPP
United States$11,072$62,997
Switzerland$7,732$69,358
Norway$6,647$67,640
Germany$6,646$54,457
Sweden$5,782$53,808
Austria$5,851$56,871
Denmark$5,568$57,218
Netherlands$5,765$57,565
Luxembourg5,558$116,787
Australia5,187$53,723
Canada5,418$50,078
France5,376$46,455
Belgium5,428$52,250
Ireland5,276$84,460
Japan4,823$41,364
Iceland4,811$57,742
Finland4,578$49,373
United Kingdom4,653$46,956
New Zealand4,204$42,814
Italy3,649$42,816
Spain3,616$40,483
Korea3,384$42,113
Czech Republic3,428$40,389
Portugal3,379$34,341
Slovenia3,224$38,749
Israel2,932$40,261
Lithuania2,638$35,832
Slovak Republic2,354$32,575
Greece2,384$30,354
Estonia2,579$36,358
Chile2,159$24,736
Poland2,230$31,834
Hungary2,222$31,579
Latvia1,973$30,645
Turkey1,337$28,455
Mexico1,154$20,537

Health spending as part of the US GDP

In the US, healthcare spending makes up a fair chunk of the GDP, and is steadily increasing. Way back in 1960, US healthcare expenditures made up around 5% of GDP versus 17.80% in 2019. And spending doesn’t look like it’s slowing down, with healthcare goods and services expected to reach 19.7% of the GDP in 2028.

Health expenditure as a percent of US GDP over time

YearHealth expenditures as percent of US GDP
19605.0%
19615.2%
19625.3%
19635.4%
19645.6%
19655.6%
19665.7%
19676.0%
19686.2%
19696.5%
19706.9%
19717.1%
19727.2%
19737.2%
19747.5%
19757.9%
19768.2%
19778.4%
19788.3%
19798.4%
19808.9%
19819.2%
198210.0%
198310.1%
198410.0%
198510.2%
198610.4%
198710.6%
198811.1%
198911.4%
199012.1%
199112.8%
199213.1%
199313.4%
199413.3%
199513.4%
199613.3%
199713.2%
199813.3%
199913.3%
200013.4%
200114.0%
200214.9%
200315.4%
200415.5%
200515.5%
200615.6%
200715.9%
200816.3%
200917.2%
201017.3%
201117.3%
201217.2%
201317.1%
201417.3%
201517.6%
201617.9%
201717.9%
201817.7%
201917.8%
202018.% (Projected)
202118.2% (Projected)
202218.4% (Projected)
202318.6% (Projected)
202418.8% (Projected)
202519.% (Projected)
202619.2% (Projected)
202719.5% (Projected)
202819.7% (Projected)

Who’s footing the bill for healthcare spending?

Switching positions from last year, the majority of America’s healthcare spending was paid for by the federal government (29.0%), followed closely by households (28.4%) in 2019.

Who’s footing the bill for healthcare?

Type of SponsorBillions of dollars% of total
Private Business$724.519.1%
Household$1,076.428.4%
Other Private Revenues$282.97.5%
Federal$1,102.329.0%
State and Local$609.316.1%

And the federal government continues to take on a larger share of health spending rising from 16.8% of total healthcare expenditure in 1987 to 29.0% in 2019. Combined with state and local spending, more than 45% of healthcare expenditures are footed by the government.

Share of total health expenditure by type of sponsor

YearPrivate BusinessHouseholdOther Private RevenuesFederalState and Local
198723.2%36.8%8.0%16.8%15.2%
198823.5%37.1%8.4%16.0%15.0%
198924.1%36.4%8.1%16.4%15.1%
199024.1%35.3%7.8%17.4%15.3%
199123.8%34.4%7.7%18.6%15.5%
199223.7%32.9%7.7%20.2%15.4%
199323.4%32.0%7.7%21.2%15.8%
199423.2%31.4%7.6%21.2%16.5%
199523.2%31.5%7.7%21.3%16.3%
199623.5%31.0%7.8%21.6%16.1%
199723.0%31.4%8.0%21.2%16.3%
199823.3%32.0%8.4%19.9%16.3%
199923.9%31.9%8.3%19.5%16.4%
200024.6%32.0%7.6%19.3%16.5%
200124.3%31.1%7.0%20.8%16.8%
200223.7%31.0%6.7%21.6%17.0%
200323.7%30.7%6.7%22.2%16.7%
200423.3%30.5%6.7%22.6%16.8%
200523.2%30.4%6.7%22.5%17.2%
200622.3%30.4%6.9%23.3%17.1%
200722.0%30.1%7.4%23.2%17.3%
200821.2%30.1%7.1%24.5%17.1%
200920.4%29.1%6.6%27.6%16.2%
201019.7%28.8%6.7%28.6%16.2%
201120.0%28.7%6.7%27.6%17.1%
201220.0%28.9%7.1%26.6%17.4%
201319.6%28.9%7.2%26.6%17.7%
201419.3%28.5%6.9%28.0%17.3%
201518.8%28.4%6.9%28.9%17.0%
201618.9%28.3%7.1%28.9%16.8%
201719.1%28.4%7.4%28.5%16.6%
201819.2%28.4%7.3%28.7%16.4%
201919.1%28.4%7.5%29.0%16.1%

How will healthcare spending look after COVID-19?

It’s difficult to project just how much of an impact COVID-19 will have on the $4.01 trillion projected for 2020 before the pandemic. Although official annual National Health Expenditure Accounts estimates by the the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) for 2020 will not be available until the end of 2021, estimates by a study published in the journal Business Economics found that national health spending began to decline in March of 2020, fell to more than 20% below the previous year’s level in April, and then began to recover by August 2020. So even though there have been over 33.4M cases of COVID and over 600K deaths in the US, overall, healthcare spending decreased dramatically in 2020.

These large drops can be mostly attributed to the limited access to healthcare for nonessential / nonemergency treatments during the early stages of the pandemic in the summer of 2020. For instance, comparing April 2019 to April 2020, spending on physician and clinical services was 34.4% below the previous year, according to the same study. Similarly, spending on home health care dropped by 12.8% and spending on dental care decreased by more than a whopping 60%.

Health care spending annual growth for selected personal health care categories

Selected categoriesAnnual growth as of April 2020
Personal health care-25%
Hospital care-35%
Physician and clinical services-34%
Prescription drugs4%
Nursing home care2%
Home health care-13%
Dental services-62%

Another study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association estimated that the coronavirus pandemic will end up costing Americans $16 trillion, with an additional $2.6 trillion in estimated long-term additional costs from people who survive COVID-19 but have resulting long-term health damage. They also estimate that mental health costs because of the pandemic will rise by $1.6 trillion.

Methodology

We sourced data on health expenditures per capita by country from both the World Health Organization Global Health Expenditure database and OECD Health Statistics, using data from 2019 or the most recently available year.

PPP refers to purchasing power parities, a rate of currency conversion that attempts to equalize the purchasing power of different currencies by eliminating the differences in price levels among countries, measured in terms of national currency per US dollar. USD, PPP refers to currency in US dollars adjusted for PPP.

The cost of a hospital stay around the world uses data from the World Health Organization’s health service delivery costs database adjusted for inflation.

Sources:

  1. National Health Expenditures,” last updated by the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services on December 16, 2020
  2. Health at a Glance 2019,” published by OECD on November 7, 2019
  3. Global Health Expenditure Database,” last updated by the World Health Organization on June 16, 2021
  4. Health service delivery costs,” last updated by the World Health Organization in July 2011
  5. Tracking the U.S. health sector: the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic,” published on November 9, 2020, in Business Economics, vol. 55, no. 4, 2020
  6. The COVID-19 Pandemic and the $16 Trillion Virus,” published on October 12, 2020, in The Journal of the American Medical Association

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