Economy Global Health

U.S. Healthcare Spending Exceeds Most Other Countries According to the OECD

In comparison to the twenty countries that make up the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)- Australia, Chile, Germany, and France, just to name a few- the United States is grossly overspending on basic healthcare. While the median country in the OECD spends roughly nine percent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on healthcare, the U.S. spends more than seventeen percent.

According to physician and behavioral scientist Peter Ubel, even with that level of spending being unparalleled by any other country in the OECD, the U.S. is not receiving “more nurses or doctors per capita,” “more days in the hospital,” or “more MRI pictures.” This begs the question: if the U.S. spends more on healthcare than any other country in the OECD, without using more care, why are Americans paying more for that care?

While answer to this question is not clear cut, according to Ubel’s Sick to Debt: How Smarter Markets Lead to Better Care, “if we really want to reduce American healthcare spending, we need to tackle high prices.” This change would need to come in the form of politically challenging “powerful interest groups” including hospitals, sub-specialists, drug and device companies, pharmaceutical companies, and those in favor of high prices for medical care.

Sources: Forbes 1/29; Health Affairs 1/2019; Sick to Debt 11/26/19; OECD.org 1/2020

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