Healthcare, also written as health-care or health care, is the maintenance or improvement of health via the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of disease, injury, illness, and other physical or mental conditions. Healthcare includes dentistry, medicine, nursing, audiology, optometry, psychology, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and more.
Access to health care varies across countries and communities and is largely influenced by social and economic conditions and health policies implemented by governments. A well-functioning healthcare system requires a financing mechanism, a well-trained and adequately paid workforce, reliable information to make informed decisions and policies, and well-maintained health facilities.
In order for any healthcare system to exist or function, it requires a financing mechanism. In most developed countries, this is typically done with government financing through taxation or social security, supplemented by private organizations, and personal out-of-pocket costs. In single-payer healthcare (a type of universal healthcare), such as Medicare, costs of essential healthcare for all of the country’s residents are paid for by a single public system. In the United States, most healthcare is paid for through private insurance plans and out-of-pocket costs.
Every country has different healthcare costs. Twenty-three countries spend more than $3,000 on healthcare per capita based on 2018 data. According to the OECD, the ten countries that spend the most on healthcare per person are:
- United States ($10,586)
- Switzerland ($7,317)
- Norway ($6,187)
- Germany ($5,986)
- Sweden ($5,447)
- Austria ($5,395)
- Denmark ($5,299)
- Netherlands ($5,288)
- Luxembourg ($5,070)
- Australia ($5,005)
The United States spends the most on healthcare per person every year. With a per person cost of $10,586, the United States spends more than $3,000 more per person than the second-highest country Switzerland. U.S. households spent $980 billion on healthcare in 2017, which is about $3,200 per person. Despite spending the most on healthcare, health outcomes in the United States are not any better than other countries. One reason that the United States’ healthcare is so expensive is because of administrative costs, which account for about one-quarter of all healthcare costs, followed by the rising cost of drugs.