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Health Policy. 1994 Jan 15;26(3):207-20.

Health care expenditure in the Nordic countries.

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  • 1Centre for Health Economics, Stockholm School of Economics, Sweden.


International comparisons of health care expenditure are associated with many different kinds of problems. One type of problem is due to heterogenous definitions and to difficulties with conversion to common prices. Such problems are present also if one selects homogeneous countries as, for example, the Nordic countries, which have a similar GDP per capita and social system. In this paper we compare the health care expenditure in the Nordic countries to illustrate the significance of these problems in international comparisons. We also correct the latest available OECD statistics for local nursing homes, which are not included in health care expenditure for Denmark but are included for the other Nordic countries, and also for the care of the mentally retarded, which is not included in health care expenditure for Denmark or, after 1985, for Sweden. In addition, comparisons of health care expenditure are presented with different currency conversion factors. The comparisons show, for example, that Sweden has a higher expenditure share of gross domestic product (GDP) than Denmark, even after corrections have been made, but that the difference between the countries becomes considerably smaller, from 37% higher expenditure for Sweden without correction to 12-15% after correction.

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