OECD Observer
Health spending slows

For the first time in decades, health spending has not increased in real terms on average across OECD countries. According to figures published in the latest OECD health data 2012, the growth in health spending in 2010 slowed or turned negative in almost all OECD countries. 

Since the global economic crisis took hold in 2008, health spending has stalled in many OECD countries after years of continuous growth; and preliminary figures for some countries suggest that this slowdown continued in 2011.

The average growth rate in health spending of 0.0% in 2010 compares with 4.3% in 2009 and an annual average growth of 4.8% over the period 2000–2008, when health spending outpaced economic growth and accounted for an increasing share of GDP.

While government tended to maintain health spending in the immediate wake of the economic slowdown–even in some of the hardest-hit countries–cuts really began to take effect in 2010. Growth in public spending on health averaged -0.5% in 2010 compared with 5.1% in 2009. In a number of European countries, overall health spending reversed in 2010 as drastic measures to cut public spending were put in place. At the same time health spending still managed to grow by around 3% in the US, Canada and New Zealand but by more than 8% in Korea.

See www.oecd.org/health

©OECD Observer No 292, Q3 2012