Bloomberg ranks the world's most efficient health care systems

United States ranked 46th in a list of 48 nations

Topics: Health Policy, Market Trends, Strategy, Finance, Access to Care, Quality, Performance Improvement, Appropriateness

August 28, 2013

Bloomberg this month identified the most—and least—efficient health care systems in the world based on life expectancy and health costs per capita.

For the rankings, Bloomberg researchers used data from the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, World Health Organization (WHO), and Hong Kong Department of Health. Researchers ranked only countries with a population of at least five million, a life expectancy of at least 70 years, and a gross domestic product (GDP) of at least $5,000. Each of the 48 qualifying countries' health care system was evaluated based on:

  • Life expectancy, which accounted for 60% of the ranking;
  • Relative per capita cost of health care (percentage of GDP per capita), which accounted for 30%; and
  • Absolute per capita cost of health care (expenditures covering preventive services, family planning, nutrition, and emergency aid), which accounted for 10%.

Bloomberg gave each country an efficiency "score," with a score of 100 representing a perfect system. According to Bloomberg, the top 10 countries and their scores are:

    1. Hong Kong (92.6)
    2. Singapore (81.9)
    3. Japan (74.1)
    4. Israel (68.7)
    5. Spain (68.3)
    6. Italy (66.1)
    7. Australia (66)
    8. South Korea (65.1)
    9. Switzerland (63.1)
    10. Sweden (62.6)

The United States earned an efficiency score of 30.8, putting it in 46th place, just behind the Dominican Republic (43rd), Turkey (44th), and Iran (45th). U.S. residents have a life expectancy of 78.6 years and health care costs of $8,608 per capita, Bloomberg reports. Moreover, health care costs represent 17.2% of the U.S. GDP per capita, more than in any other nation.

Only Serbia (47th) and Brazil (48th) ranked below the United States (Bloomberg list; 8/19; Joszt, Physician's Money Digest, 8/23).

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