How much did governments spend on health in 2020?

n 2020, ‘health’ remained the second-largest function of general government expenditure in the EU, following ‘social protection’. Government expenditure on ‘health’ increased by 1 percentage point (pp) compared with 2019 (8.0 % of GDP in 2020 compared with 7.0 % of GDP in 2019).

The increase is due to both a decrease in nominal GDP and an increase in government expenditure on health (€1 073 billion in 2020 compared with EUR 978 billion in 2019), mainly related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The most significant categories of health expenditure were ‘hospital services’ (3.4 % of GDP), ‘outpatient services’ (2.5 % of GDP) and ‘medical products, appliances and equipment’ (1.2 % of GDP).

Highest ratio of health expenditure to GDP in Czechia, Austria, France

In 2020, Czechia and Austria (both 9.2 %) and France (9.0 %) recorded the highest ratios of government expenditure devoted to health to GDP among EU Member States. Meanwhile, Latvia (4.8 % of GDP), Poland and Ireland (both 5.4 % of GDP) recorded the lowest ratios.

In 2020, Czechia and Austria (both 9.2 %) and France (9.0 %) recorded the highest ratios of government expenditure devoted to health to GDP among EU Member States. Meanwhile, Latvia (4.8 % of GDP), Poland and Ireland (both 5.4 % of GDP) recorded the lowest ratios.

The EU Member State recording the largest increase in the ratio of government expenditure devoted to health to GDP was Cyprus (5.9% in 2020 compared with 3.5% in 2019), followed by Malta (7.2 % of GDP in 2020 compared with 5.2 % of GDP in 2019) and Hungary (6.4 % of GDP in 2020 compared with 4.5 % of GDP in 2019).

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Methodological note:

While a significant effort was undertaken to harmonise the recording of government measures to mitigate the economic and social impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, some further harmonisation of data for the reference year 2020 might be needed. The likelihood of future revisions is thus higher than usual and data are provisional.

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