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Germany only big 5 country to spend more on outpatient than hospitals

Germany’s health minister Karl Lauterbach is planning to shift as much as 25% of care which is currently done on an inpatient basis to outpatient, in the country’s biggest health care reform in 20 years. But Germany is already unique amongst the big 5 in that it already spends slightly more on ambulatory care than inpatient care.

The above infographic shows total national expenditure on outpatient care relative to total national expenditure on hospitals for Germany, France, the UK, Italy and Spain, using data from OECD Health Statistics 2022.

France, the UK, Italy and Spain each spend about twice as much on hospitals as they do on outpatient care.

Germany, by contrast, is unique in that it actually spends slightly more on outpatient care than it does on hospitals. If Lauterbach’s proposed reforms go ahead, this difference will become much more pronounced.

The above data does not tell the whole story, however, as the expenditure is categorised by what type of facility it is spent on, rather than what type of patient. Much of the UK’s expenditure on hospitals, for example, goes to outpatients, who are required to come into hospital for various types of specialist care. In Germany, by contrast, a lot of this specialist care is done outside of hospitals, in specialist clinics.

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