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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 $3.65 trillion on healthcare goods and services in 2018, according to U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. That figure was projected to increase to $4.01 trillion in 2020 before the COVID-19 pandemic, so who knows where it’ll end up (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 $4,570 a night in the hospital.
The US lands at No. 17, where the cost of a nightly bed is (ahem) only $851.88.
Other notably expensive countries to spend the night at a hospital include Luxembourg at $2,406.10, Norway at $1,781.76, Qatar at $1,735.78 and Switzerland at $1,170.64.
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.
|Rank||Country||Average (2020 USD)|
|9||United Arab Emirates||$964.06|
|17||United States of America||$851.88|
|40||Trinidad and Tobago||$314.79|
|41||Republic of Korea||$311.40|
|50||Libyan Arab Jamahirya||$223.72|
|52||Antigua and Barbuda||$215.33|
|56||Saint Kitts and Nevis||$161.95|
|57||Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of)||$155.15|
|85||Saint Vincent and the Grenadines||$70.42|
|87||The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia||$65.61|
|123||Syrian Arab Republic||$26.07|
|125||Micronesia (Federated States of)||$24.54|
|135||Republic of Moldova||$18.04|
|143||Papua New Guinea||$12.20|
|146||Sao Tome and Principe||$11.49|
|155||Lao People’s Democratic Repubilc||$8.42|
|169||Democratic People’s republic of Korea||$5.23|
|174||United Republic of Tanzania||$4.40|
|178||Central African Republic||$3.73|
|189||Democratic Republic of Congo||$1.25|
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 $10,586.08 per capita on healthcare in 2018, 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 45% more per capita than its closest competitor, Switzerland, which spends $7,317 per capita.
|Rank||Country||Average cost (2018 USD)|
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 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 2018. 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.
Who’s footing the bill for healthcare spending?
Whereas the federal government takes on the brunt of medical costs … wait, who are we kidding? The majority of Americans’ healthcare spending is paid for by households (28.4%), followed closely by the federal government (28.3%).
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. We don’t yet know the severity of the situation, how many cases there will be or for how long we’ll need to continue staying home.
The cumulative hospitalization rate in the US for COVID-19 as of early April 2020 is 12.3 hospitalizations for every 100,000 people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That number is expected to grow as data continues to roll in.
Projecting the costs of COVID-19 hospitalizations
While it’s difficult to project eventual costs of the coronavirus, we can make educated guesses based on available data. For example, if the median total cost of treatment for in-patient admissions is similar to that of pneumonia, it might run in the neighborhood of $20,300.
Factoring in the current cumulative hospitalization rate, the total cost of COVID-19 treatment for the US could be about $819.3 million, based on data as of April 4th. Note that it doesn’t include ventilator and other costs that come with treatment.
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