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OECD’s Health at a Glance Reports

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has reported slow health-spending as economies continue to struggle. Further, Reuters reported that total health spending fell in one in three OECD countries between 2009 and 2011 with the poor from these countries being the ones hardest hit.

Those living in poverty within those hard-hit countries are at a larger risk of longer-term problems and have lessened access to regular medicines and checkups, the OECD explained on Nov. 14.

This drop in health spending is a “sharp reversal” compared to the years prior to the financial crisis. The OECD said this makes it “all the more important that governments work to make healthcare systems more productive, efficient and affordable.”

The OECD further stated that longer-term impacts on health and health spending are important to focus on in contrast to short-term benefits to budgets.

Reuters then explained that personal spending per capita “fell in 11 of the 33 OECD countries between 2009 and 2011, according to the 2013 Health at a Glance report.”

As it stands, Japan and Israel are the only countries that saw their health spending rise since 2009, when compared to the previous decade.  On the other hand, growth in the U.S. fell 1.3% and 0.8% in Canada.

In fact, a third of what the OECD claims to be “rich countries” cut their health spending between 2009 and 2011. The report states that budget cuts in “austerity hit countries for the drop in healthcare spending.”

The OECD said that “Governments have worked to lower spending through cutting prices of medical goods, especially pharmaceuticals, and by budget restrictions and wage cuts in hospitals.”

Some of the other findings in the Health at a Glance 2013 report are:

1. “Chronic diseases such as diabetes and dementia are increasingly prevalent. In 2011, close to 7% of 20-79 year-olds in OECD countries, or over 85 million people, had diabetes. This number is likely to increase in the years ahead, given the high and often growing rates of obesity across the developed world.”

2. “The market share of generic drugs has increased significantly over the past decade in many countries. However, generics still represent less than 25% of the market in Luxembourg, Italy, Ireland, Switzerland, Japan and France, compared with about 75% in Germany and the United Kingdom.”

3. “The burden of out-of-pocket spending creates barriers to health care access in some countries. On average in the OECD, 20% of health spending is paid directly by patients; this ranges from less than 10% in the Netherlands and France to over 35% in Chile, Korea and Mexico.”

3. “Across OECD countries, more than 15% of people aged 50 and older provide care for a dependent relative or friend, and most informal carers are women.”

– Alycia Rock

Sources: OECD, Huffington Post, Reuters