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Health at a Glance 2009

OECD Indicators

image of Health at a Glance 2009
This fifth edition of Health at a Glance provides the latest comparable data on different aspects of the performance of health systems in OECD countries. It provides striking evidence of large variations across countries in the costs, activities and results of health systems. Key indicators provide information on health status, the determinants of health, health care activities and health expenditure and financing in OECD countries.

This edition also contains new chapters on the health workforce and on access to care, an important policy objective in all OECD countries. The chapter on quality of care has been extended to include a set of indicators on the quality of care for chronic conditions.

Each indicator in the book is presented in a user-friendly format, consisting of charts illustrating variations across countries and over time, brief descriptive analyses highlighting the major findings conveyed by the data, and a methodological box on the definition of the indicator and any limitations in data comparability. An annex provides additional information on the demographic and economic context within which health systems operate, as well as a concise description of key characteristics in health system financing and delivery of services in OECD countries.

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Burden of out-of-pocket health expenditure

Financial protection through public or private health insurance substantially reduces the amount that people pay directly for medical care, yet in some countries the burden of out-of-pocket spending can still create barriers to health care access and use. Households that have difficulties paying medical bills may delay or forgo needed health care (Hoffman et al., 2005; May and Cunningham, in Banthin et al., 2008). On average across OECD countries, 18% of health spending is paid directly by patients (see Indicator 7.6 “Financing of health care”).

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