Health Care Spending Ireland v OECD

Theres perennial talk on how we do, or do not, allocate more , or less, money to health care than the OECD.

Lets take a look, via the OECD Stat Bank. Im looking at constant prices constant purchasing power parity data – adjusting for inflation and for the fact that a dollar buys less in one country, more in another. In other words, its as close to a universal scaling across countries and time as can be gotten.  Im looking at current spend, in other words the running of the system. All data from

First, it is the case that we are, overall, spending more than the OECD average.



Like all things however the devil is in the detail. When we look at the breakdown of this spend into public and private sources we see quite an interesting picture.


We can see the precipitate decline in public spend post 2008. This is starkly illustrated if we rebase.


The shift is very clear with private sources taking up the fall. Public spending on a per capita basis on current health spending has taken a mauling.


Health spending overruns from the Dept of Health vote has been the source of much angst. We can no longer, under EU rules, have as we have had supplementary budgets to top up the (low) spend. So we will either have to

a) make significant increases in public current health spending , unlikely in the fiscal space we are in but something which FF and the various independents would like to see  and which would cut into other putative spending plans OR

b) allow the mix to continue to move as it has towards increased reliance on private sources, something which would please FG but which will be at the cost of increased chaos in the public health system.

Either way, its going to be interesting.

1 thought on “Health Care Spending Ireland v OECD

  1. anthony owens

    An alternative would be gradually introduce accountability for good and bad decision-making into the HSE by way of far greater transparency than is the case today. And to move towards modern accounting and budgeting practices based on the principle that money follows the patient. And to shift investment away from hospital-based acute care towards community-based care. And to change the relationship with GP’s that relegates them to little more than postmen and refuses to reimburse their businesses for investments they make in modern diagnostic equipment and minor procedures on-the-spot.
    Most other EU states do all these things. Ireland’s public health system is run for the benefit of the senior medics and administrators who it employs. Its performance is among the worst in the EU. There are no plans for reform of substance. A tax strike may be needed.


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