New data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) shows spending on health care increased by an average of 3.4 per cent in 2016, the highest rate increase witnessed in the past seven years. Health-spending growth was mainly triggered by outpatient care, with more moderate increases in long-term care, retail pharmaceuticals, and inpatient care.
Prior to 2009, average health expenditure rose by around 4 to 6 per cent per year. However, the introduction of policies to reduce spending during the financial crisis in Europe such as controls on public health workers salaries, halting recruitment and reducing the size of the health workforce, led to reductions in health funding. Outside of Europe, health-spending growth also slowed, but remained positive in Korea, Australia, Canada and the United States.
OECD estimates for 2017 suggest that spending could have grown again by around 2.5 per cent last year, with a number of countries including Canada, the Netherlands and New Zealand projecting reduced growth rates compared to the previous year.
Spending in the sector is estimated to have reached just over €3,500 per capita on average across the OECD, approximately 70 per cent more than per capita spending on education.