Before attempting to make any comparisons between countries and their respective healthcare systems, I think it is beneficial to go over some basic statistics and numbers to help put things in perspective.
The numbers below are borrowed from this 2014 USA today article looking at countries belonging to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)
Health expenditure per capita: $8,745
Expenditure as a pct. of GDP: 16.9% (the highest)
Pct. obese: 28.6% (the highest)
Life expectancy: 78.7 years (8th lowest)
Health expenditure per capita: $6,140
Expenditure as a pct. of GDP: 9.3% (16th highest)
Pct. obese: 10.0% (2nd lowest)
Life expectancy: 81.5 years (10th highest)
Here are some other helpful numbers to consider, borrowed from The Institute for Health Metrics Evaluation.
US Population 2015 – 323.5 million
US per capita GDP 2015 – $49,714
Norway population 2015 – 5.2 million
Norway per capita GDP 2015 – $58, 761
As most people know, the US leads the world in terms of healthcare spending. What fewer people know is that Norway is the second highest spender. Interestingly, the healthcare outcomes are incredibly different between the countries. Furthermore, the healthcare systems are entirely different. The US has its free market insurance model with Medicare/Medicaid there as a safety net, while Norway has a nationalized healthcare system paid for by the government. Naturally, this results in huge differences in terms of how patients seek care, the availability of resources, and, frankly, the entire healthcare paradigm. These topics will be further explored in the following posts.
Below are a few figures looking at life expectancy and common healthcare problems facing both the US and Norway.
Global life expectancy at birth. The TLDR – dark blue is good, red is bad. Note that Norway is darker than the U.S. with a life expectancy of 81.5 years vs out 78.7.
Here are the top causes of death in Norway (left) and the U.S. (right) and how they’ve changed over the past 10 years. The careful observer will note that the top 7 problems of 2015 are the same between our countries.