Health spending fell in one of three countries covered by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development between 2009 and 2011, with those hardest hit by the financial crisis unsurprisingly suffering the most.

The OECD has published its Health at a Glance 2013 analysis which shows that spending per capita fell in 11 of 33 countries, notably by 11.1% in Greece and 6.6% in Ireland. Growth also slowed significantly in others, including Canada (0.8%) and the USA (1.3%) and only Israel and Japan saw the rate of health spending growth accelerate since 2009 compared with the previous decade.
More than three-quarters of OECD countries reported a cut in real-term spending on prevention programmes in 2011 over 2010, and half spent less than in 2008. Cuts to spending on cost-effective prevention programmes on obesity, harmful use of alcohol and smoking "are a cause for concern", says the report, noting that "any short-term benefits to budgets are likely to be greatly outweighed by the long-term impact on health and spending".

Among the other findings, the OECD notes that for the first time, average life expectancy exceeded 80 years, an increase of ten years since 1970 and "this trend shows no sign of slowing down". Those born in Switzerland, Japan and Italy can expect to live the longest.

The report also notes the rise of chronic diseases, pointing out that in 2011, close to 7% of 20-79 year-olds in OECD countries, or over 85 million people, had diabetes. It adds that while the use of generics has increased significantly over the past decade in many countries, they still represent less than 25% of the market in Luxembourg, Italy, Ireland, Switzerland, Japan and France, compared with about 75% in Germany and the UK.

The report also notes that "the burden of out-of-pocket spending creates barriers to healthcare access in some countries". On average in the OECD, 20% of health spending is paid directly by patients; this ranges from less than 10% in the Netherlands and France to over 35% in Chile, Korea and Mexico.