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Healthcare Expenditure in OECD Countries, Research Paper Example

Pages: 4

Words: 1065

Research Paper

The inclusion of developing countries in the OECD health care data has affected the calculation of averages and comparison to the USA. For instance, the total expenditure on health is 17.4% of the GDP in the USA compared to 11.4 and 11.8% in Canada and France respectively. Consequently, this has lowered the average of all the OECD countries to 9.75 which is less than what USA spends. The total health expenditure pre capita in the USA is almost double that in France and Canada standing at 7690 dollars. As a result, this pulls the per capita expenditure of the all OECD nations at half the American’s expenditure. Pharmaceutical expenditure is fairly the same across the three highlighted countries but the USA has a slightly higher expenditure. However, the USA has lesser number of practicing physicians per 1000 people. The ratio stands at 2.4 compared to France at 3.3.the same scenario recurs in the number of beds per 1000 people with that of the USA. This can be attributed to less number of ailing people thus no need for a bigger capacity of the hospital wards. The infant mortality rates per 1000 live birth are staggering high in the USA. As at 2008, the ratio was at 6.5 compared to France and Canada at 3.9 and 5.1 respectively.

The United States dedicates a high percentage of its gross domestic product to health care annually. In 2009, the USA committed 17.4 percent of its GDP to health care (Johnson, 2010). It is estimated that the expenditure on health care in the USA is increasing at a higher rate than economic growth (OECD Health Data, 2004). This included 7690 dollars total health expenditure per capita with the pharmaceutical expenditure standing at 956 dollars the same year. Compared to other OECD countries such as France and Canada, this was almost double the expenditure of each respective country. Consequently, the total expenditure of all OECD countries averaged at almost half the expenditure of the USA in health care. This can be accounted for by the high prevalence of acute diseases in the USA compared to European nations.

According to findings by avendano, Americans reported worse health compared to the Europeans. As a mitigation measure, the American government therefore has to spend a higher ratio of their GDP in health care. Another grim face of the American health sector according to avendano is the fact that, poor health is prevalent among the poor in the USA unlike in Europe where the disparities between the rich and the poor are insignificant. Various factors come into play in the American health sector. First the health insurance sector inn the United States is flawed (OECD Health Data, 2004). A majority of the population lack health cover. These are mostly the poor. These people are therefore susceptible and the government usually has to intervene by injecting more money into the health sector to cater for such people. Secondly, Americans have poor health habits. Smoking, obesity, low physical activity level, and very high alcohol consumption levels are just but a few examples. These habits are common among the rich who consequently end up suffering from chronic diseases. The government therefore has to spend more money in providing specialized care associated with diseases such as diabetes and cancer. Comparing to the European countries where people are healthier, the USA government pays less attention to a national health cover policy (Johnson, 2010). Health insurance is privatized unlike in Europe where governments have adopted national health cover policies. As a result less people in the USA are covered. Moreover, the US government specializes more in providing special health care instead of primary health care which focuses on prevention rather than cure.

Avendano notes that, the social and healthcare policies in Europe are more comprehensive and accessible. This is the reverse in the USA where it’s discriminatory and rarely accessible to the poor. Consequently, there is poor health and higher expenditure on healthcare in the USA compared to other OECD countries (Johnson, 2010).health levels among the rich in both the USA and Europe are relatively high and equal. However, the level of good health in an America citizen in the rich bracket is comparable to a person almost ten times less wealthy. The poor in Europe is fair better compared to those in the United States due to emphasis on primary health care which focuses more on disease prevention. Provision of comprehensive health cover in the UK and Europe as well as establishment of policies catering for the unemployed, are factors contributing to better health in Europe compared to the USA.

Having realized this, the world health organization and more particularly the USA should embrace the concept of provision of basic or primary health care rather than specialized care. This will serve to mitigate the spread of many diseases. Emphasis should be placed on the development and success of immunization programs to curb the spread of preventable disease. As regards non-communicable diseases such as cancer and diabetes, the governments should focus on sensitizing the masses on the consequences of poor health habits which will be more economical compared to providing specialized care for such ailments. The situation is even far gloomier, in the wake of the fact that such diseases which were in the earlier days perceived as diseases of the rich, are now adversely affecting the poor. As earlier mentioned, owing to the fact that some countries such as the USA lack comprehensive health cover policies, it therefore implies that more and more poor people will suffer from poor health. Avendano notes that, in the USA, the less wealthy are more involved in smoking have higher body mass index, less physical activity but lower alcohol consumption. Consequently, more poor people are presenting with non-communicable diseases compared to the rich. This trends need to be reversed through better governing policies to improve the incomes of the poor such that they can be able to access better diets and social services which will improve their deteriorating health status. Finally, the doctor/nurse patient ratio needs to be improved to provide timely healthcare saving lives and cost associated with progression of a disease due to late detection and slow treatment process.

 

REFERENCES

Johnson, T. (2010).Health cost and U.S competitiveness. Retrieved January 12, 2012 from http://www.cfr.org/health-science-and-technology/healthcare-costs-us-competitiveness/p13325

OECD Health Data. (2004). Health Spending in Most OECD Countries Rises, with the U.S. far Outstripping all others. Retrieved January 12, 2012 from http://www.oecd.org/document/12/0,2340,en_2649_201185_31938380_1_1_1_1,00.html

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