kartikv asks:

You like posting the “most important graph in healthcare” concerning our costs vs. those of other OECD countries. Can that be decomposed by subsector spending, i.e. pharmaceuticals, physicians, administration, marketing, etc.? Where are we the most inefficient?

The OECD health statistics are my go-to for this sort of thing. They break down each country’s spending by function: “curative and rehabilitative care” (which I’ll refer to as hospital care as a shorthand on the graph, but which encompasses more than that), long-term nursing care, “medical goods dispensed to out-patients” (which I’ll refer to as drug costs on the graph, but which again includes more), prevention/public health, and administration. Here’s per-capita U.S. spending in 2009 compared with an average of all other OECD countries for which there were data:


I wouldn’t put too much stock in the long-term nursing data, just because different countries have very different cultural norms about caring for the elderly. The per-capita costs there ranged from $1,391.1 (Norway) to a whopping $6 (Slovakia). But the other numbers are striking. The U.S. spends nearly three times as much on hospital care and almost five times as much on administration.