Germany spends 11.3 percent of the German economic output on health. More than almost any other industrialized country. But despite the high expenditure, the result leaves much to be desired.
Source: N24/Isabelle Bhuiyan
– The Swiss (12.4 percent) and the USA (17.2 percent) spend more than Germany with 11.3 percent of GDP. – However, the data also show that many surgeries, doctor's appointments and pills do not automatically ensure better health.
Germany has one of the most expensive healthcare systems in the world. But it's not worth its high price. This is the damning summary of an international comparison by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). German patients are sicker than people elsewhere despite high spending on doctors, hospitals and medicines, have lower life expectancy, and there are more preventable hospital deaths here than in other rich countries.
"Germany has high health spending, but the results of the health care system are only average," says Michael Muller, health policy analyst at the OECD. "The German health care system should make better use of the extensive resources it has at its disposal."
In fact, Germany spends more on health than almost any other industrialized country, as the latest edition of the OECD study "Health at a Glance" shows: 11.3 percent of Germany's economic output is spent on hospitals, doctors' offices and pharmacies. This proportion is only higher in Switzerland and especially in the USA.
And spending is rising sharply: According to the German Federal Statistical Office, the cost of inpatient treatment in hospitals rose by 4.3 percent last year to around 87.8 billion euros – more than twice as fast as the economy as a whole.
Most blood prere lowering drugs
The large amount of money finances a healthcare system that is among the best in the world, at least in terms of supply and availability: Only in Japan, Korea and Russia are there more hospital beds per inhabitant, only in Austria are more people treated as inpatients in clinics, only in Switzerland are more artificial hip joints inserted, in no country in the world are more antihypertensive drugs prescribed, and only in four other countries do more diabetes medications cross the pharmacy counter.
However, OECD data also show that lots of surgeries, doctor's appointments and pills don't automatically make people healthier. According to the report, the system here delivers only mediocre results despite the high spending: Life expectancy, for example, is only average compared with other industrialized countries.
It is lower than in Germany only in Eastern Europe, Asia, Africa and South America. In fact, countries such as Slovenia, Portugal and South Korea, where life expectancy 50 years ago was far below that of Germany, have long since overtaken us.
One of the reasons for this is probably that Germans are actually a pretty unhealthy people: More fat and obese people live in this country than in other industrialized nations, there are more smokers, and Germans drink more alcohol than other nations.
A decisive factor, however, is apparently also a healthcare system that is not worth the money: This is shown above all by the evaluation of treatment results in this country. If one considers for example those of women, who are ill with cancer of the breast, then in Germany a particularly high portion of the patients dies of the illness: From 100.000 women, 29 die in this country; in Spain, the figure is only 21, which is a third less; in South Korea, the figure is only eight.
Poor chances of survival
Germany also performs poorly when it comes to survival chances after a heart attack. Of all patients hospitalized for heart attacks in 2015, just under eight percent died in Germany within a month of discharge. While this figure has improved since 2010, it is still above the average for all industrialized countries.
In Norway, for example, the proportion was only half as high, while in Denmark, Australia and Sweden it was around four percent. High expenses obviously do not help if the money is spent in the wrong place.