Here’s how much your country spends on your healthcare

Luxembourg topped the EU ranking for highest healthcare expenditure per inhabitant in 2016, spending some €5,600 per head, Eurostat revealed on Thursday.

The latest figures from the EU’s official statistics agency, Eurostat, show that healthcare expenditure per inhabitant was €5,000 or higher in three EU member states in 2016.

Luxembourg was found to be the most generous with €5,600 spend on each of its 590,000 inhabitant. Sweden and Denmark completed the podium, spending €5,100 and €5,000 per capita respectively.

On the other end of the spectrum, the three countries with the lowest healthcare expenditure per head in 2016 were Poland (€700), Bulgaria (€600) and Romania (€400).

It’s worth noting though that Switzerland and Norway, which are not EU member states spent considerably, and would have topped the EU chart.

Source: Here’s how much your country spends on your healthcare | Euronews

Reducing health inequalities in high-income countries

An umbrella review of the effects of public health policies in high income countries has been published. It suggests some interventions that policy makers might use to reduce health inequalities, but the transferability between high-income countries remains unclear.

Results of the assessments of polices were mixed: some were shown to reduce health inequalities (e.g. food subsidy programmes, immunisations), while others have no effect and some interventions appear to increase inequalities (e.g. 20 mph and low emission zones).

For the pdf of the review go to Reducing Health Inequalities



Improving understanding of biosimilars 

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has published additional information on biosimilar medicines, as part of their ongoing work to improve understanding of biosimilars across the EU. A biosimilar is a biological medicine that is highly similar in all essential aspects to a ‘reference’ biological medicine already authorised.

The new material includes an animated video for patients that explains key facts on biosimilar medicines and how EMA works to ensure that they are as safe and effective as their reference biological medicines.

For more information on biosimilars 


Pharmaceutical spending

Pharmaceutical spending accounts for approximately 20% of total health spending in OECD countries when taking into account medicines dispensed in both outpatient and inpatient settings of care. Recent developments in the pharmaceutical market and spending raise concerns for the future:

  • Spending has become increasingly skewed toward high-cost “specialty medicines” which now account for between 30% and 50% of spend and this percentage will increase in future
  • Launch prices of new medicines have been soaring in some therapeutic categories – in the US the prices of new cancer medicines now typically exceed USD 10,000 per month and one was launched at USD 64,000 per month. The prices of orphan medicines are also very high
  • New hepatitis C treatments, which represent a real breakthrough for patients, have been launched at a list price of up to USD 84,000. They were assessed as cost-effective at this price although the company recouped 25 times the initial outlay in R&D in less than two years

The OECD is preparing a study that will focus on therapeutic areas where new medicines are very costly and/or have a high budget impact for health systems, such as oncology, rare diseases, HIV, Hepatitis C, diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease. The overall objective is to improve patient access to innovative treatments and ensure the sustainability of health spending as well as continued innovation that meets patient needs.

To read more about the study on the OECD website, go to: Pharmaceuticals 

International comparisions of health prices and volumes

Cross-country variation in health expenditure may be the result of differences in the prices of goods and services or differences in the volume of care, or a mix of both. Separating health spending into volume and price measures helps policy makers better understand the drivers of cross-country variations, and helps them decide what policy responses should be put in place to address health spending trends. Such policies may differ if, for example, a country’s high health care spending is due to relatively high volume of goods and services consumed or to the relatively high price a country pays for those goods or services.

The OECD have recently published new findings on these international comparisons.

To download the document on International comparisons of health prices and volumes from the website

Integrated care for people with multi-morbidity

Some 50 million Europeans live with multi-morbidity and their numbers are likely to grow. As they have complex health problems and need ongoing care, policymakers are alarmed by the challenge this poses to their health systems and social services.

The ICARE4EU project has looked at new approaches to integrated care  and its findings are shared in five policy briefs:

  • How to improve care for people with multi-morbidity?
  • How to strengthen patient-centredness in caring for people with multi-morbidity
  • How to strengthen financing mechanisms to promote care for people with multi-morbidity
  • How can eHealth improve care for people with multi-morbidity
  • How to support integration to promote care for people with multi-morbidity

To read more about the project and download the five policy briefs on caring for people with multi-morbidity from the website

25 Years of Protecting our Health

Since 1992 when the Maastricht Treaty specifically stated that ‘The community shall contribute towards ensuring a high level of human health protection’ the EU has been protecting our health.

It has helped national governments to make healthcare more accessible and efficient, provided scientific advice and data, financed local and cross-border health projects and promoted investments in innovation, research and training.

Current challenges include:

  • Guaranteeing accessible, efficient and resilient healthcare
  • Investing more in innovation, research and eHealth
  • Tackling antimicrobial resistance
  • Promoting innovative health products and technologies
  • Preparing for new global health threats

To download the infographic on 25 years of protecting our health from the website

The economics of patient safety

The latest report in the OECD’s series ‘Better policies for better health’ is “The Economics of Patient Safety: strengthening a value-based approach to reducing patient harm at national level”.

It makes the point that a principal objective of health care is to do no harm and to ensure that the benefits of treatment outweigh its deleterious effects. However, unnecessary harm to patients has been part of health care for as long as medicine has been practiced and continues to occur. In recent decades a greater research focus has examined and quantified the extent and costs of patient safety failure across countries and healthcare settings. The increasing complexity of health care also means a higher risk of harm requiring greater vigilance, focus and investment to ensure care is as safe and effective as possible.This report:

  • estimates the cost of patient harm
  • outlines a strategy for policy-makers and healthcare leaders to improve patient safety with limited resources.

To download the full report on the Economics of Patient Safety from the website

Harnessing big data for health

The latest edition of the Eurohealth Observer includes articles on:

  • connecting the dots: putting big data to work for health systems
  • big data for better outcomes: supporting health care system transformation in Europe
  • the Trump Administration launches health law changes into heavy seas
  • what does Brexit mean for health in the UK

To download the publication on Big data and health systems from the website

The Innov8 approach for reviewing national health programmes

The Innov8 technical handbook is a user-friendly resource as part of the Innov8 approach for reviewing national health programmes to leave no one behind. It gives detailed guidance and exercise sheets for each of the 8 steps of analysis that comprise the review process and includes background readings, country examples and analytical activities.

For more information and to download the handbook on the Innov8 approach for reviewing national health programes from the website