Health expenditures by services and providers for 195 countries, 2000–2017

Published July 30, 2021, in BMJ Global Health (opens in a new window)


National Health Accounts are a significant source of health expenditure data, designed to be comprehensive and comparable across countries. However, there is currently no single repository of this data and even when compiled major gaps persist. This research aims to provide policymakers and researchers with a single repository of available national health expenditures by healthcare functions (ie, services) and providers of such services. Leveraging these data within statistical methods, a complete set of detailed health expenditures is estimated.


A methodical compilation and synthesis of all available national health expenditure reports including disaggregation by healthcare functions and providers was conducted. Using these data, a Bayesian multivariate regression analysis was implemented to estimate national-level health expenditures by the cross-classification of functions and providers for 195 countries, from 2000 to 2017.


This research used 1662 country-years and 110 070 data points of health expenditures from existing National Health Accounts. The most detailed country-year had 52% of the categories of interest reported. Of all health functions, curative care and medical goods were estimated to make up 51.4% (uncertainty interval (UI) 33.2% to 59.4%) and 17.5% (UI 13.0% to 26.9%) of total global health expenditures in 2017, respectively. Three-quarters of the global health expenditures are allocated to three categories of providers: hospital providers (35.4%, UI 30.3% to 38.9%), providers of ambulatory care (25.5%, UI 21.1% to 28.8%) and retailers of medical goods (14.4%, UI 12.4% to 16.3%). As gross domestic product increases, countries spend more on long-term care and less on preventive care.


Disaggregated estimates of health expenditures are often unavailable and unable to provide policymakers and researchers a holistic understanding of how expenditures are used. This research aggregates reported data and provides a complete time-series of estimates, with uncertainty, of health expenditures by health functions and providers between 2000 and 2017 for 195 countries.

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Schneider MT, Chang AY, Chapin A, Chen CS, Crosby SW, Harle AC, Tsakalos G, Zlavog BS, Dieleman JL. Health expenditures by services and providers for 195 countries, 2000–2017. BMJ Global Health. 30 July 2021. doi: 10.1136/bmjgh-2021-005799.