Health costs rise across OECD nations—but U.S. remains biggest spender

Underscoring previous findings that increased health care spending does not always translate to better quality care, a new report from the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) finds that while the United States spent more on health care than any other country studied, it “did not do well” in preventing costly hospital admissions.

According to the fact sheet, on quality of care the United States stands out as performing very well in the area of cancer care, achieving higher rates of screening and survival from different types of cancer than most other developed countries. The United States does not do well in preventing costly hospital admissions for chronic conditions, such as asthma or complications from diabetes, which should normally be managed through proper primary care.

On health expenditures, the United States spent 16% of GDP on health in 2007, much more than the OECD average of 8.9%. Spending per person is almost two-and-a-half times higher than the OECD average.

Click here for the news release.

(SOURCES: Advisory Board Daily Briefing,, December 10, 2009; OECD,, accessed December 22, 2009)