Global healthcare spending likely to lag in developing countries

The United States has its share of healthcare finance and spending issues, but the developing countries of the world are likely going to be in worst shape in the coming years, according to two new studies published in the British journal The Lancet. One study focuses on global health spending trends, while the other focuses on the assistance provided to developing countries to deliver healthcare services.

The contrast is stark: By 2040, the researchers have concluded that while the U.S. will spend $16,592 per capita annually, in developing countries such as Somalia, as little as $34 will be spent. On average, wealthier developing countries will spend $9,019, while developing countries will spend just $164--a more than five-fold difference.

This is skewed a bit by the fact that the U.S. currently spends far more on healthcare delivery than any other nation on the planet. The U.S. spent nearly $9,100 per person in 2013, 50 percent higher than Switzerland, the second-highest spender, and close to double most other industrialized nations. And despite that spending, outcomes and quality are not as good as in other countries.

"Despite tremendous need, our results show that tepid growth in health spending is likely in many of the poorest countries with the largest disease burdens over the next 25 years," Joseph Dieleman, lead author, said in a study announcement. "Historically, some of these financing gaps have been filled by international aid. But funding growth has stalled in recent years and future projections suggest that global health funding may not be sufficient to bridge the gap."

The researchers concluded that assistance provided to developing countries has been all but flat in recent years, compared to average growth of 11.3 percent between 2000 and 2009.

To learn more:
- read the announcement
- check out the Lancet study abstract on development assistance
- here's the second Lancet study abstract on worldwide health spending