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Percentage of GDP spent on health care in select countries 2018

Among OECD member countries, the United States had the highest percentage of gross domestic product spent on health care in 2018 - or latest year available. The U.S. spent nearly 17 percent of its GDP on health care services. Switzerland, France, and Germany followed the U.S. with distinctly smaller percentages. What makes the difference compared to other developed countries is the significantly higher private spending in the United States, while public health spending is on line with other developed countries.

Why compare OECD countries?

OECD stands for Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. It is an economic organization consisting of 36 members, mostly high-income countries and committed to democratic principles and market economy. This makes OECD statistics more comparable than statistics of developed and undeveloped countries. Health economics is an important matter for the OECD, even more since increasing health costs and an aging population have become an issue for many developed countries.

Health costs in the U.S.

  A higher GDP share spent on health care does not automatically lead to a better functioning health system. In the case of the U.S., high spending is mainly because of higher costs and prices, not due to higher utilization. For example, physicians’ salaries are much higher in the U.S. than in other wealthy countries. A general practitioner in the U.S. earns almost twice as much as the average physician in other high-income countries. Pharmaceutical spending per capita is also distinctly higher in the United States.

Health expenditure as a percentage of gross domestic product in selected countries in 2018

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Release date

November 2019


Worldwide, OECD

Survey time period


Supplementary notes

Values are for 2018 or latest available year.

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Statistics on "Health expenditures in the U.S."

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