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Comparing Price Levels of Hospital Services Across Countries: Results of a Pilot Study


  • OECD


Health services account for a large and increasing share of production and expenditure in OECD countries but there are also noticeable differences between countries in expenditure per capita. Whether such differences are due to more services consumed in some countries than in others or whether they reflect differences in the price of services is a question of significant policy relevance. Yet, cross-country comparisons of the price of health services are rare and fraught with measurement issues. This paper presents a new set of comparative prices for hospital services in a selection of OECD countries. The data is novel in that it reflects quasi-prices (negotiated or administrative prices or tariffs) of the output of hospital services. Traditionally, prices of outputs have been compared by comparing prices of inputs such as wage rates of medical personnel. The new methodology moves away from the input perspective towards an output perspective. This should allow productivity differences between countries to be captured and paves the way for more meaningful comparisons of the volume of health services provided to consumers in the different countries. One of the key findings of the pilot study is that the price level of hospital services in the United States is more than 60 % above that of the average price level of 12 countries included in the study. Price levels turn out to be significantly below average in Korea, Israel and Slovenia. Les services de santé représentent une part importante et croissante de la production et des dépenses dans les pays de l’OCDE mais avec des différences notables entre pays dans les dépenses par habitant. Savoir si de telles différences sont dues aux quantités de services consommés dans tel ou tel pays ou reflètent des différences dans les prix des services est une question fondamentale pour mener une politique pertinente. Jusqu’à présent, les comparaisons entre pays du prix des services de santé sont rares et rendues difficiles par les problèmes de mesure. Cet article présente un ensemble de prix comparatifs pour les services hospitaliers dans une sélection de pays de l'OCDE. Ces données sont inédites car elles reflètent « les quasi-prix » (prix négociés ou réglementés ou tarifs) de la production de services hospitaliers. Traditionnellement, les prix de ces produits étaient comparés en utilisant les prix des « input » (approche par les coûts) tels que les taux de salaire du personnel médical. La nouvelle méthodologie s’écarte de cette approche pour tendre vers une approche « output ». Cela devrait permettre de saisir les différences de productivité entre les pays et d’ouvrir la voie à des comparaisons plus significatives du volume des services de santé fournis aux consommateurs dans les différents pays. Un des résultats clés de cette étude pilote est que le niveau de prix des services hospitaliers aux États -Unis est de plus de 60% supérieur au niveau de prix moyen des 12 pays inclus dans l’étude. En revanche, les niveaux de prix sont significativement plus bas en Corée, en Israël et en Slovénie.

Suggested Citation

  • Oecd, 2010. "Comparing Price Levels of Hospital Services Across Countries: Results of a Pilot Study," OECD Statistics Working Papers 2010/3, OECD Publishing.
  • Handle: RePEc:oec:stdaaa:2010/3-en

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    Cited by:

    1. Lautier, Marc, 2014. "International trade of health services: Global trends and local impact," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 118(1), pages 105-113.

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