Spending on healthcare is a hotly debated topic in countries across the world, as developing nations look to transition from the Millennium Development Goals to the Sustainable Development Goals, and advanced economies aim to maintain coverage while reducing costs.
But which countries spend the most on health? The answer depends on which way the calculation is made.
This first chart, based on World Health Organisation data, shows the percentage of total government expenditure that goes towards healthcare. By this measure Costa Rica is the biggest spender, with the government spending more than a quarter of its budget on health. Three African nations – Uganda, Rwanda and Malawi – feature in the top 10, with all dedicating more than 20% of their expenditure to healthcare, similar to the advanced economies of Switzerland, New Zealand and the United States.
However, when total health spending (public and private) is calculated as a percentage of a country’s GDP, a very different top 10 emerges.
Using this measure, the US takes first place, on 17%. Generally, however, the list is dominated by smaller economies, including a number from the Pacific region, such as Tuvalu and the Federated States of Micronesia. European nations also feature on the list, with the Netherlands in fifth place, France in eighth and Switzerland in 10th.
Only three countries appear on both lists: the US, the Marshall Islands and Switzerland.
This data is taken from the WHO’s World Health Statistics Report 2015.