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Countries with most and least affordable health care ranked

Health care software company Radar Healthcare has ranked developed countries by the affordability of their health care, finding Luxembourg to be the most affordable and Greece to be the least affordable.

Radar Healthcare measured ‘affordability’ by taking the average amount a person spends on health care out of their own pocket per year as a percentage of the average annual salary in that country. So the average working person in Luxembourg spends just 1.54% of their earnings on out-of-pocket health care expenses, whilst the average working person in Greece spends 9.83%.

There are one or two surprises. Most notably, Portugal, Italy and Spain (all countries with NHS health systems), all ranked as less affordable than the US. The average Portuguese worker appears to spend more than double the percentage the average American worker does on out-of-pocket health care expenses.

However, this is explained by the average US salary being around 3x higher than the average Portuguese salary; in absolute terms, Americans spend significantly more out-of-pocket (and of course, this doesn’t even account for the huge sums Americans have to pay for health insurance).

For the most part the data follows the well-established general pattern of richer countries spending less out-of-pocket on health care, proportionally, compared to poorer countries (see scatter plot below).

For Radar Healthcare’s full report click here.

All of the above figures on health care expenditure are taken from the OECD’s data on health care expenditure. The OECD’s definition of health care covers “all activities with the primary purpose of improving, maintaining and preventing the deterioration of the health status of persons and mitigating the consequences of ill-health through the application of qualified health knowledge”. This includes:

  • Health promotion and prevention;
  • Diagnosis, treatment, cure and rehabilitation of illness;
  • Caring for persons affected by chronic illness;
  • Caring for persons with health-related impairment and disability;
  • Palliative care;
  • Providing community health programmes;
  • Governance and administration of the health system.
We would welcome your thoughts on this story. Email your views to Martin De Benito Gellner or call 0207 183 3779.