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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 Americans to be hospitalized in.

Cost of a night in a hospital bed

RankCountryCost of a night in a hospital bed
1 Monaco $4,766
2 Luxembourg $2,509
3 Norway $1,858
4 Qatar $1,810
5 Switzerland $1,221
6 San Marino $1,169
7 Denmark $1,119
8 Ireland $1,113
9 United Arab Emirates $1,005
10 Netherlands $983
11 Sweden $957
12 Kuwait $957
13 Iceland $954
14 Finland $918
15 Austria $903
16 Australia $894
17 United States of America $888
18 Belgium $846
19 Canada $821
20 Singapore $811
21 Germany $799
22 France $789
23 United Kingdom $781
24 Brunei $697
25 Japan $680
26 Italy $673
27 Spain $613
28 Cyprus $552
29 Greece $530
30 New Zealand $508
31 Bahrain $508
32 Equatorial Guinea $494
33 Israel $470
34 Slovenia $463
35 Portugal $398
36 Oman $371
37 Malta $367
38 Czech Republic $346
39 Bahamas $340
40 Trinidad and Tobago $328
41 Republic of Korea $325
42 Saudi Arabia $310
43 Andorra $302
44 Slovakia $286
45 Estonia $285
46 Croatia $250
47 Hungary $249
48 Barbados $235
49 Latvia $234
50 Libyan Arab Jamahirya $233
51 Lithuania $225
52 Antigua and Barbuda $225
53 Poland $217
54 Russian Federation $189
55 Seychelles $179
56 Saint Kitts and Nevis $169
57 Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of) $162
58 Niue $156
59 Turkey $153
60 Mexico $153
61 Chile $153
62 Gabon $151
63 Romania $144
64 Uruguay $136
65 Kazakhstan $123
66 Argentina $123
67 Malaysia $123
68 Palau $122
69 Cook Islands $115
70 Montenegro $109
71 Mauritius $106
72 Botswana $104
73 Lebanon $103
74 Bulgaria $101
75 Panama $100
76 Costa Rica $94
77 Belarus $91
78 Grenada $89
79 Saint Lucia $81
80 South Africa $78
81 Dominica $78
82 Suriname $78
83 Azerbaijan $77
84 Colombia $74
85 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines $73
86 Jamaica $72
87 The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia $68
88 Algeria $68
89 Serbia $67
90 Bosnia $67
91 Cuba $66
92 Iran $66
93 Dominican republic $61
94 Peru $61
95 Belize $59
96 Albania $56
97 Angola $55
98 Ecuador $55
99 Thailand $54
100 Tunisia $54
101 Namibia $53
102 Maldives $52
103 Ukraine $52
104 Fiji $51
105 Turkmenistan $48
106 Armenia $48
107 El Salvador $47
108 Nauru $45
109 China $43
110 Jordan $43
111 Cape Verde $41
112 Tonga $39
113 Iraq $38
114 Samoa $37
115 Georgia $36
116 Congo $35
117 Guatemala $35
118 Morocco $33
119 Paraguay $33
120 Vanuatu $31
121 Tuvalu $31
122 Swaziland $30
123 Syrian Arab Republic $27
124 Indonesia $26
125 Micronesia (Federated States of) $26
126 Marshall Islands $25
127 Egypt $25
128 Sri Lanka $24
129 Brazil $23
130 Honduras $22
131 Mongolia $22
132 Bhutan $22
133 Philippines $21
134 Bolivia $20
135 Republic of Moldova $19
136 Guyana $17
137 Nigeria $15
138 Kiribati $15
139 Sudan $15
140 Solomon Islands $14
141 Yemen $13
142 Cameroon $13
143 Papua New Guinea $13
144 Nicaragua $12
145 Djibouti $12
146 Sao Tome and Principe $12
147 India $12
148 Uzbekistan $11
149 Viet Nam $11
150 Cote d’Ivoire $11
151 Zambia $11
152 Senegal $11
153 Mauritania $11
154 Kyrgyzstan $10
155 Lao People’s Democratic Repubilc $9
156 Pakistan $9
157 Cambodia $8
158 Lesotho $8
159 Tajikistan $8
160 Kenya $8
161 Benin $8
162 Comoros $7
163 Chad $7
164 Ghana $7
165 Mali $6
166 Togo $6
167 Haiti $6
168 Afghanistan $6
169 Democratic People’s republic of Korea $5
170 Uganda $5
171 Bangladesh $5
172 Gambia $5
173 Myanmar $5
174 United Republic of Tanzania $5
175 Timor-Leste $5
176 Madagascar $4
177 Rwanda $4
178 Central African Republic $4
179 Mozambique $4
180 Nepal $4
181 Guinea $4
182 Niger $3
183 Sierra Leone $3
184 Ethiopia $3
185 Eritrea $3
186 Malawi $2
187 Guinea-bissau $2
188 Liberia $2
189 Democratic Republic of 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 $11,072 16.9%
Switzerland $7,732 11.9%
Norway $6,647 10.0%
Germany $6,646 11.5%
Sweden $5,782 10.9%
Austria $5,851 10.3%
Denmark $5,568 10.1%
Netherlands $5,765 10.0%
Luxembourg 5,558 5.3%
Australia 5,187 9.3%
Canada 5,418 10.8%
France 5,376 11.3%
Belgium 5,428 10.3%
Ireland 5,276 6.9%
Japan 4,823 11.0%
Iceland 4,811 8.5%
Finland 4,578 9.0%
United Kingdom 4,653 10.0%
New Zealand 4,204 9.2%
Italy 3,649 8.7%
Spain 3,616 9.0%
Korea 3,384 7.6%
Czech Republic 3,428 7.6%
Portugal 3,379 9.4%
Slovenia 3,224 8.3%
Israel 2,932 7.5%
Lithuania 2,638 6.6%
Slovak Republic 2,354 6.7%
Greece 2,384 7.7%
Estonia 2,579 6.7%
Chile 2,159 9.1%
Poland 2,230 6.3%
Hungary 2,222 6.7%
Latvia 1,973 6.2%
Turkey 1,337 4.2%
Mexico 1,154 5.5%

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
Luxembourg 5,558 $116,787
Australia 5,187 $53,723
Canada 5,418 $50,078
France 5,376 $46,455
Belgium 5,428 $52,250
Ireland 5,276 $84,460
Japan 4,823 $41,364
Iceland 4,811 $57,742
Finland 4,578 $49,373
United Kingdom 4,653 $46,956
New Zealand 4,204 $42,814
Italy 3,649 $42,816
Spain 3,616 $40,483
Korea 3,384 $42,113
Czech Republic 3,428 $40,389
Portugal 3,379 $34,341
Slovenia 3,224 $38,749
Israel 2,932 $40,261
Lithuania 2,638 $35,832
Slovak Republic 2,354 $32,575
Greece 2,384 $30,354
Estonia 2,579 $36,358
Chile 2,159 $24,736
Poland 2,230 $31,834
Hungary 2,222 $31,579
Latvia 1,973 $30,645
Turkey 1,337 $28,455
Mexico 1,154 $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
1960 5.0%
1961 5.2%
1962 5.3%
1963 5.4%
1964 5.6%
1965 5.6%
1966 5.7%
1967 6.0%
1968 6.2%
1969 6.5%
1970 6.9%
1971 7.1%
1972 7.2%
1973 7.2%
1974 7.5%
1975 7.9%
1976 8.2%
1977 8.4%
1978 8.3%
1979 8.4%
1980 8.9%
1981 9.2%
1982 10.0%
1983 10.1%
1984 10.0%
1985 10.2%
1986 10.4%
1987 10.6%
1988 11.1%
1989 11.4%
1990 12.1%
1991 12.8%
1992 13.1%
1993 13.4%
1994 13.3%
1995 13.4%
1996 13.3%
1997 13.2%
1998 13.3%
1999 13.3%
2000 13.4%
2001 14.0%
2002 14.9%
2003 15.4%
2004 15.5%
2005 15.5%
2006 15.6%
2007 15.9%
2008 16.3%
2009 17.2%
2010 17.3%
2011 17.3%
2012 17.2%
2013 17.1%
2014 17.3%
2015 17.6%
2016 17.9%
2017 17.9%
2018 17.7%
2019 17.8%
2020 18.% (Projected)
2021 18.2% (Projected)
2022 18.4% (Projected)
2023 18.6% (Projected)
2024 18.8% (Projected)
2025 19.% (Projected)
2026 19.2% (Projected)
2027 19.5% (Projected)
2028 19.7% (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 $724.5 19.1%
Household $1,076.4 28.4%
Other Private Revenues $282.9 7.5%
Federal $1,102.3 29.0%
State and Local $609.3 16.1%

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
1987 23.2% 36.8% 8.0% 16.8% 15.2%
1988 23.5% 37.1% 8.4% 16.0% 15.0%
1989 24.1% 36.4% 8.1% 16.4% 15.1%
1990 24.1% 35.3% 7.8% 17.4% 15.3%
1991 23.8% 34.4% 7.7% 18.6% 15.5%
1992 23.7% 32.9% 7.7% 20.2% 15.4%
1993 23.4% 32.0% 7.7% 21.2% 15.8%
1994 23.2% 31.4% 7.6% 21.2% 16.5%
1995 23.2% 31.5% 7.7% 21.3% 16.3%
1996 23.5% 31.0% 7.8% 21.6% 16.1%
1997 23.0% 31.4% 8.0% 21.2% 16.3%
1998 23.3% 32.0% 8.4% 19.9% 16.3%
1999 23.9% 31.9% 8.3% 19.5% 16.4%
2000 24.6% 32.0% 7.6% 19.3% 16.5%
2001 24.3% 31.1% 7.0% 20.8% 16.8%
2002 23.7% 31.0% 6.7% 21.6% 17.0%
2003 23.7% 30.7% 6.7% 22.2% 16.7%
2004 23.3% 30.5% 6.7% 22.6% 16.8%
2005 23.2% 30.4% 6.7% 22.5% 17.2%
2006 22.3% 30.4% 6.9% 23.3% 17.1%
2007 22.0% 30.1% 7.4% 23.2% 17.3%
2008 21.2% 30.1% 7.1% 24.5% 17.1%
2009 20.4% 29.1% 6.6% 27.6% 16.2%
2010 19.7% 28.8% 6.7% 28.6% 16.2%
2011 20.0% 28.7% 6.7% 27.6% 17.1%
2012 20.0% 28.9% 7.1% 26.6% 17.4%
2013 19.6% 28.9% 7.2% 26.6% 17.7%
2014 19.3% 28.5% 6.9% 28.0% 17.3%
2015 18.8% 28.4% 6.9% 28.9% 17.0%
2016 18.9% 28.3% 7.1% 28.9% 16.8%
2017 19.1% 28.4% 7.4% 28.5% 16.6%
2018 19.2% 28.4% 7.3% 28.7% 16.4%
2019 19.1% 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 non-essential / non-emergency 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 drugs 4%
Nursing home care 2%
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

Previous findings:

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