Health expenditure

Financial resources for health are unevenly distributed geographically. Australia, Japan and Singapore have higher health expenditure per capita than the OECD average (USD 4 100, 2018), while most of Asia/Pacific economies spend less than the Asia/Pacific average (USD 1 090). On average across the Asia/Pacific, two-thirds of health expenditure is financed by governments or compulsory insurance schemes, and the rest is financed from voluntary schemes or concerns households’ out-of-pocket expenses (Figure 5.10). More than 80% of total health expenditure in Bhutan, Brunei Darussalam, Japan, Thailand, Tonga and Samoa were financed publicly in 2018, while in countries with a lower GDP per capita such as Armenia, Bangladesh and Turkmenistan, three-quarters of total health expenditure were financed privately.

On average the Asia/Pacific economies experienced annual growth in real health expenditure in GDP per capita of 6.4% over the 2010-18 period (Figure 5.11). Spending on health expenditure per capita in China, Timor-Leste and Turkmenistan grew rapidly in comparison to the growth-rate of GDP per capita. In contrast, in Fiji, Georgia and Lao PDR health expenditure increased by less than what might have been expected on basis of the annual increase in GDP per capita.

Health expenditure as a percentage of GDP grew steadily in most Asia/Pacific countries over the past decade (Figure 5.12). However, compared with the OECD average (8.7%), average health expenditure in the Asia/Pacific region remains relatively low (5.2%). There is also considerable variation across the region: health expenditure in some South East Asian countries such as Bangladesh, Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Lao PDR and Papua New Guinea was less than 3% of GDP in 2018, while it was in excess of 10% of GDP in Armenia and Japan.

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