10 Most Expensive Countries for Healthcare in the World

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What do financing your retirement as well as finding affordable healthcare and the possibility of losing your job all have in common with each other? Easy, at least for an American, these days. Those are the top three worries that we wake up to in this country and that 60% of people believe are very much more than just nightmares gone wrong. They could become reality and it would seem that women are more concerned in particular. It’s healthcare that is on everyone’s lips and it’s been like that for years. Americans have become downright insecure since the economic crisis and despite any progress in employment figures or in the Gross Domestic Product of the country, it’s still a major worry that people perceive every day. How to pay for your healthcare in a country where it’s the most expensive in the world? Even if you’re on a middle-income figure and have insurance, you’re still likely to be sitting their wondering and perusing over how to deal with health bills if they have already arrived in your mailbox, or even worse worrying about the unknown and how you’re going to handle them if (or rather when) they get posted to you.

The country remains roughly divided amongst those that are pro-Affordable Care Act and those that think that President Obama got it all wrong by passing that law making an attempt to provide affordable healthcare in the country that spends more money than any other in the world in that sector of activity. There are more and more Republicans that are voicing their opinions to get that law ditched just as soon as Obama closes the little white door in the big Oval Office and does a runner somewhere off to the sun, probably. It’s not surprising that people are genuinely worried in the USA about how they can pay for their healthcare and that of their family.

The Proof is in the Figures

A survey that was carried out by the Institute for Communitarian Policy Study (George Washington University) shows that “the majority of Americans have a widespread sense of economic insecurity” today.

·         62% of women are worried in the USA about their healthcare expenses.

·         47% of men are also worried about how they are going to pay for the healthcare costs either for themselves or for their families.

·         It’s obvious that healthcare is a major concern for Americans these days.

·         Today, healthcare spending stands at 17.5% of GDP in the USA.

·         Between 2014 and 2015, healthcare expenses grew at a far greater percentage rate than over the past twelve years according to official statistics.

·         The average rate of growth in healthcare expenditure in the USA stood at roughly 3.7% per annum between 2008 and 2013.

·         2013 was even a historical year with growth in expenditure that stood at a measly (by comparison) figure of just 2.9%.

·         But in 2014, that figure jumped to 5.3% per year.

·         While the number of people with public health insurance increased from 12.9% in 2000 to just below 24% in 2013, there was a radical drop from 71.8% to 61% for private health insurance in the country.

·         The recession can be largely blamed for those figures related to public and private health insurance, with the loss in employment leading to private health insurance being forfeited and enrolment for some into public health-insurance schemes.

·         But, what’s the cause of the increase since 2014 in the average expense growth for healthcare in this country? It’s due to the Affordable Healthcare Act and new and highly expensive drugs that have been launched onto the market.

·         Hospitals account for 32% of all expenditure in healthcare today in the USA.

·         That figure increased by 0.6% from 2013 and 2014.

·         Doctors make up 20% of expenditure in healthcare in the country.

·         Doctors’ expenses increased by 2.1% from 2013 to 2014.


But, is the USA alone in the cost of its healthcare system in the world and what are the other places where you would have to fork out and dig deep until you got enough money to find treatment?

Isn’t it a sorry state of affairs that you have to think about how much you have in the bank before you can actually get treatment? Or is it the old Malthusian idea that we have to get rid of the poor because they will simply eat away at the resources of the rich? Just remember though that there is always someone that is richer than you are. That means you will always be the poor man to someone else, won’t you?

But, where would it cost you a bomb to get treatment these days? Here’s the list. Getting treated in any hospital by any doctor in any of these countries would certainly cost us less than in the USA. Have a think about it.

What’s included in the healthcare costs? Anything from medical procedures to pharmaceutical products and prescriptions as well as administration and staff.

Top-Ten Most Expensive Countries for Healthcare in the World

1.United States

Health expenditure in this country per capita stands at $8,713. Life expectancy stands at 78.8 years (the only top-ten country that doesn’t even reach 80 years for life expectancy) and the obesity rate is 35.3%. The USA has more money than most countries in this world and it spends more money than any other on healthcare. Yet, there are still people that don’t have cover and there is no greater return on investment here than anywhere else. In fact, it’s worse. The USA has roughly 2.5 doctors per 1,000 residents, which is one of the lowest and worst in the top-ten list. Not only does it cost us more to see the doctor, but we have to wait more to get one who’s available.


Switzerland has a per capita expenditure of $6,325 and that amounts to 11.1% of GDP for this country. The obesity rate is just 10.3% and life expectancy stands at 82.9 years. 81% of the Swiss believe that they are in better health with their universal healthcare. At least, the results are better. The Swiss live longer. The country even has more nurses than any other country in the world (17 per 1,000 people of the population) and they have 4 doctors per 1,000 residents.


Norway has health expenditure (per capita) that stands at $5,862 and that represents 8.9% of its GDP. Life expectancy stands at 81.8 years ad obesity is 10% of the total population. As with many countries in the western world, universal healthcare is the order of the day here. There is also the same number of nurses (17) and doctors (4) per 1,000 residents as for Switzerland in this country.


Healthcare expenditure here stands at $5,131 per capita and that’s 11.1% of GDP. Life expectancy stands at 81.4 years and obesity is just over 11%. Only 1% of residents have no health insurance in this country. Across the board in all OECD countries, people over the age of 65 believe that they are in good health at a rate of 43.4%. But, in the Netherlands, that figure is much higher at 60%.


Health expenditure here stands at $4,904 per person in the country (11% of GDP). Life expectancy is at 82 years of age and obesity stands at 11.7% of the population. Swedes also go to the doctor’s far less than any other country in the world (2.9 times per year) and this is because they state that they are in excellent health at a rate of 81% for all residents.


Health expenditure here stands at $4,819 per capita and works out to 11% of GDP (and that’s with 25% of its population being over 65). Almost the entire country has medical healthcare cover either through public or private means (by comparison in the USA only 89% of the country is covered).


Life expectancy here stands at 80.4 years and they spend $4,553 per person in the country (10.4% of GDP). Its growing ageing population will likely see that percentage of healthcare expenditure increase in the coming years (those over the age of 65 will amount to nearly one quarter of the population in the next thirty years).


Almost the entire country has health insurance here with $4,553 being spent per person (10.1% of GDP). There is a life expectancy of 81.2 years here.


Life expectancy here stands at 81.9%, but obesity is at 22.7%. Per-capita expenditure on healthcare stands at $4,371 ($762 coming from the private sector, per resident).


Canada has a life-expectancy rate of 81.5 years of age. It spends $4,351 per capita on healthcare and that works out to 10.2% of GDP. The average percentage for expenditure as a percentage of GDP in the OECD stands at 8.9%.

The more you spend should be synonymous with greater returns on investment for people in the USA. That means that Americans should be the fittest people on this planet. They’re definitely not! What happened and where did it all go wrong?

People are living longer and that necessarily means that we need to think about healthcare of the future. What direction do we want to take and can we continue living in the country with the most expensive healthcare system in the world? Are we still prepared to work all of our lives and not have enough money to get regular check-ups or pay for operations? Focusing on fear will just keep us in the past rather than progressing towards something better and new. The Dutch writer Corrie ten Boom once said “Worrying is carrying tomorrow's load with today's strength- carrying two days at once. It is moving into tomorrow ahead of time. Worrying doesn't empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.” There’s no point carrying yesterday’s worries around with us today, but that can only happen as long as the cost of healthcare comes down in this country. After all, who’s it making rich? Certainly not the people who work in that sector and certainly not the people who use it to be looked after and treated.

Yet, there are plenty of innovative ways of reducing health costs and thus enabling us to get rid of that worry and fear of healthcare available to us.

What would you do to make healthcare better?

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East Indian's picture

Please understand, one can never insure ALL the customers of a service. That means the insurers will have to bear the entire cost of the industry; that means the premium will be the (cost of the industry / number of customers) + service charges of the insurer + insurer's profit. As many customers will be spending less than the mean expenditure, it makes sense for them not to insure. And if all the customers take out insurance, then frivolous demands will increase, straining the system. Only a law can compel all the citizens to insure, and such a law will cause the premium to shoot up beyond the sky.


Insurance will work well only as long as there are a lot of uninsured people.

Volaille de Bresse's picture

"If enough White Non-Jewish Americans start emigrating to Europe we might be able to overwhelm the invaders from the M.E."


Yes but no! You screwed up a great country do you now wanna sink Europe? At the very least we can take the Jews but the WASPs no no no!

And you'll have to walk again instead of spending your life in a car. Can you adapt?

John_Coltrane's picture

Well the 35% obesity rate compared to the around 10% for the other countries tells the entire story on life expectancy and a lot of the cost as well.  Even the Swedes who only average around 3 visits/year have some health issues.  I average about once every 5-10 years.  But I'm normal weight and work out everyday.  Good health is much more valuable than good health care (actually insurance).  Just find a good concerige medical practice (cash only, no insurance) and you'll be fine whether in the US or the EU.  And you'll also get the best prices on lab tests and other diagnostics since the doctor is paid directly whether you're healthy or sick.  But he has a vested interest in keeping you healthy since that maximizes his income and minimizes his time expenditure.  And that's what you want too! 

We need to pay for health outcomes, not procedures.  And fatties need to carry their true cost or drop the flab on the gym floor.


Escapeclaws's picture

There is something wrong with the food in the US. It could be GMO's, pesticides, hormones in meat, too many chemical additives--who knows. You can't really know what you are eating. Alzeimer's could really be mad cow disease according to Richard Rhodes in 'Deadly Feasts'. You eat the same dishes in Europe and don't become obese or feel bloated.

hendrik1730's picture

There's nothing wrong with US food, there's a lot wrong with the quantities/quality you guys consume. I know very well the portions being served in Europe, the US and South Africa and for me, the European portions are too large ( so I don' eat them but leave a small leftover ), but in the US and South Africa, I take what remains and can eat another time from the same platter without being hungry ever. I know some obese people and just looking at the amounts and the kind ( fastfood ) of food they eat - small wonder. You US people do not cook by yourselves, you go out and eat very fatty things in quantities you don't need. THAT's your problem.

Ghordius's picture

it definitely must be the EU's fault. perhaps too many food quality regulations here cause problems with food... elsewhere. or something

we definitely need TTIP /Sarc

Sanctuary2's picture

I dont care if Canada is the least expensive of the bunch-its Socailist!!!! Here in America we dont allow such commie preversions-and look how we save and save BIG!

Sandmann's picture

How is Cuba for healthcare ?

FIAT CON's picture

Another example of Muricans being exceptional!

IronForge's picture

Numbers look a bit fudged.

Here's Wiki using PPP for OECD and USD for WHO Numbers.

IIRC, we're at (PPP) #1 for being the most expensive with no universal Healthcare, while #2 CHE has basic universal (private for those who want private rooms, chocolate on pillows, hot single young nurses on call - just kidding) as it spent 65% of what we do on a Per Capita Basis.

IIRC, DNK or NED has an Govt Cost Intervention Program that allows for the Govt to step in and directly fund Cases once it reaches a funding threshold, so the Insurance Rates are stabilized.

Eveyone else seems to find a Basic Universal System that's working for less than what we're paying here in the USA (My personal situation is different with VA Affiliation).  Guess we can find solutions that doesn't cater to the Rentiers and Profiteers.

Urban Redneck's picture

Switzerland actually has basically the same system as the US -

1) compulsory private health insurance


2) subsidies for the poor to buy their own private insurance

the differences are

1) there is no medicare/medicaid .gov policy issuer


2) the system works and people are generally happy with it


3) The federal law on health insurance is only about 30 pages

kw2012's picture

You left out that switzerland is largely white and doesnt deal with cultural issues related to slavery. Yes that is not PC. But its a disproportionate problem in many American communities

Souris's picture

How strange France is not in the ten winners! We are very good, yet, for healthcare spendings.

Illegal's picture

Join a health care share plan not an insurance plan. Establish a hsa. Shop around for medical treatment. Exercise and eat healthy. You should be able to make it to 65 without serious health problems.

roddy6667's picture

Effective and affordable healthcare will never happen in America.

The two biggest lobbies are:

1. Health insurance

2. Pharmaceuticals

End of discussion.

silentlurker's picture

At the risk of touching off a flame war - it rather looks like the countries #2 - 10 are traditionally racially homogeneous countries. There is a very unfortunate correlation with race and specific disease and lifestyle choices - obesity, hypertension, smoking, non-compliant medication use, etc... At the end of the day, without looking at personal lifestyle choice, health outcomes by nationality become masked by an artificial metic. 


just sayin'

Déjà view's picture
Germany's foreign population cleared 8 million in 2014

Come to Germany on holiday and the chances are that every 10th person you'll see is a foreign national. According to a government statistics office, the population without German citizenship is approaching 8.2 million.

Ghordius's picture

and (numbers from 2014) the three biggest groups were Turks (1.5m), Poles (0.6m) and Italians (0.5m)

followed in descending order by Romanians (0.3m), Greeks (0.3m), Croatians (0.2m), Russians (0.2m), Serbians (0.2m), Bulgarians (0.1m), Austrians, Hungarians, Spaniards, Dutch, Portuguese, Ukrainians, French, Syrians, Chinese, Americans and Brits

Déjà view's picture

10. Canada Homogenous, where is that misconception from? Their linguista is like an alphabet soup or soup du jour for you Quebecers.

Mandarin, Hindi/South Asian, Slavic etc...

This IS 21st not 19th century. As for those other nations-NOT as homogenous as misconceived to be.

MisterMousePotato's picture

Mexican = diabetic.

Diabetes is mucho expensive to treat (at least as it is done in the U.S.).

Déjà view's picture

Include highest corporate tax rate (OECD) & lack of tort reform, kiss those remaining good jobs good-bye!

headless blogger's picture

We're checking out Switzerland. USA is old hat that is declining quickly into 3rd world. If enough White Non-Jewish Americans start emigrating to Europe we might be able to overwhelm the invaders from the M.E. America is lost, and will soon be inundated with hundreds of millions of Chinese/Asians....

Let's go home folks....

Stuck on Zero's picture

Grant a monopoly to an industry (pharma/AMA) and what do you get? Crony medicine.

TheDutchDude's picture

When I was in the states, I saw many many many obese people roaming the streets in small electric scoot mobiles. Gluttness and laziness, are the main cause of these insane health care prices.

Luckily Zerohedgers are not among these people. ZHdgers know what is coming and are preparing themselves mentally and physically for the future. ZHdgers have three insurance policies and that are gold, silver and a chair to watch the world burn. We sleep perfectly at night.

My personal and greatest insurance policy is Jesus Christ, without Him the three mentioned above do not mean anything.

thebigunit's picture

The obesity epidemic is directly related to food stamps.

The electric scooters are paid for by Medicare. The scooter vendor will do the Medicare paperwork for you.

When I was in the states, I saw many many many obese people roaming the streets in small electric scoot mobiles. Gluttness and laziness, are the main cause of these insane health care prices.

Pinch's picture

Horrible article, should have been posted as a table so comparisons are easy. Obviously single payer universal healthcare is the way to go, but the GOP, who are in the pockets of Big Insurance, will never agree. Voting for Trump (real name Dumpf) will not change that.

MisterMousePotato's picture

The GOP is in the pockets of Big Insurance?!? Well, yes, they are, of course, but the biggest giveaway of money to insurance companies in the history of the world was all Democrat.