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Ireland's health spending among highest in OECD

As a portion of the government’s income, Ireland’s health spending is higher than many of the world’s developed countries.

Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

IRELAND’S GOVERNMENT SPENDING on its health care ranks among the highest of the OECD nations as a portion of its national income, according to a report published by the government yesterday.

The government’s 2011 Health at a Glance report showed that Ireland spent 11.4 per cent of its gross national income on its healthcare – ranking 6th out of the 27 countries for which details were available.

Those figures, based on 2009 government income and spending, showed that Ireland spent €3,781 per capita on health provision – with an average of €2,836 being spent providing public healthcare for each man, woman and child in the country.

As a percentage of GDP – the total size of the economy – Ireland’s spending was less impressive, at 9.5 per cent – putting Ireland in 17th place of the 34 countries included in the data.

The USA ranked highest, spending 17.4 per cent of its GDP on healthcare provision – while Turkey ranked lowest, with health spending equivalent to 6.1 per cent of its economy.

The report also showed that the government spent €126.3 billion on healthcare provision in the decade between 2002 and 2011, with spending up by two-thirds in 2011 compared to 2002, even despite successive austerity Budgets.

Government health spending peaked in 2008, when Ireland spent over €15.5 billion of its public funds on health, including just under €600m on capital spending.

Health spending was just over €14 billion this year, and is set to stand at around €13.6 billion in 2012.

The report elsewhere underlines some interesting trends about the lifestyles enjoyed by Irish people – with the data showing that average tobacco intake has fallen, but alcohol intake has risen, in the last ten years.

Read: Ireland’s vital signs: The nation’s health over the last decade

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Gavan Reilly

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