Austerity is hitting health spending, says OECD

28 Jun 13
Public sector health spending in developed countries has been squeezed over the past three years due to government austerity drives, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

By | 28 June 2013

Public sector health spending in developed countries has been squeezed over the past three years due to government austerity drives, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Analysing state spending on health care across its 34 member counties, the OECD found funding increased by only 0.1% on average in both 2009/10 and 2010/11. This compares with average annual increases of 4.9% between 2000/01 and 2008/09.

This ‘broadly flat’ settlement was likely to continue for health spending in 2012/13, the OECD report said.

Among the countries with the biggest reductions in expenditure was Greece, whose health spending fell by more than 13% in both 2009/10 and 2010/11. Cuts were also made to budgets in both years in Ireland, Spain and the United Kingdom and in one year in the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Italy, Mexico, Netherlands, Portugal and Slovenia.

Only two OECD countries – Israel and Japan – increased health spending over the two years by more than the average annual growth up to 2009, the figures found.

Health Data 2013 found cuts had been imposed across the board. However, among the prominent targets was hospital spending, with many governments cutting wages or staff numbers. Prevention and public health initiatives had also been often curtailed, and spending on pharmaceuticals had fallen.

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