Written Answers. - Health Expenditure.

John Gormley

Question:

555 Mr. Gormley asked the Minister for Health and Children if he will report on the level of health expenditure compared with the OECD average; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1524/99]

John Gormley

Question:

556 Mr. Gormley asked the Minister for Health and Children if he will report on the level of health expenditure compared to the European Union average; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1525/99]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 555 and 556 together.

The following below, which is based on the latest available statistics published by the OECD, compares Irish health expenditure with the average for EU and OECD countries. The figure relate to 1996 and include both capital and current expenditure. Figures are shown for total expenditure – which is made up of both public and private expenditure – and public expenditure taken on its own. Health spending is expressed as a percentage of gross domestic product and also shown is spending per head of population which is compared using US dollar purchasing power parities.

1996 Spending as a % of GDP

1996 Spending Per Capita in US Dollars (PPP)

%

$

Ireland

–Total

7

1,276

–Public only

5.2

947

EU Average

–Total

8

1,582

–Public only

6.1

1,227

OECD Average

–Total

7.7

1,508

–Public only

5.7

1,116

Source: OECD, 1996
Some caution should be used in analysing these figures. Health systems deliver very different services in different countries and this is likely to influence the figures despite the fact that the OECD makes every effort to take this into consideration. In addition, the demands of the public vary between countries with, for example, continental systems having to deal with much higher proportions of their populations in older age groups. Also Ireland is only now beginning to catch up with our EU partners in terms of national income and this means that these countries have had greater resources to build up services for a number of years.
Finally, the OECD in its economic survey of Ireland published in 1997 compiled a special report on the health services. The report noted that there had been major increases in spending on community services and that there had been significant improvements in hospital productivity in recent years. The report concluded that the Irish health system, based on a mixture of public and private care, resulted in good provision of health care at a relatively low cost to the tax payer.