Mike Maciag is Data Editor for GOVERNING.E-mail: email@example.com
Countries across the globe have attempted to restrain health care costs in recent years, but perhaps nowhere is the problem more apparent than here in the United States.
Americans’ health spending per capita topped all other countries in 2010, climbing to $8,362, according to the World Health Organization. The total bill, slightly more than half of which is publically funded, more than doubles that of Japan, Great Britain and New Zealand – all of which provide universal health care.
One of the primary drivers of U.S. spending is the high cost of health goods and services. A report by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development found hospital services cost about 60 percent more here than 12 other member nations studied. By contrast, Japan tightly controls prices with national fee schedules setting caps on nearly all health services.
Of course, the aging U.S. population has contributed to rising spending, but many countries are growing older even faster. The portion of Americans older than 65 is less than the OECD average. Americans also don’t smoke much more than those in other nations. If there’s one area where the U.S. does stand out, though, it’s our much higher obesity rates.
We’ve compiled total public and private WHO spending data into the following map to illustrate the disparity in countries' per capita health spending for 2010. Incomes strongly correlate with spending, so poorer countries generally have vastly lower totals.
Click the map to open a full-screen, interactive page with figures for each country.
In terms of government expenditures, the U.S. still ranks high, with the world’s six-highest total spending:
GOVERNING By the Numbers is a companion to GOVERNING Data that digests the growing body of work at the intersection of computer-assisted journalism, data visualization and government transparency.
GOVERNING By the Numbers is dedicated to telling important stories through numbers, with a focus on both our original work in data visualization on GOVERING Data and providing an ongoing tally of editor's picks of new and notable data releases of use to those in government and those who care about it.