Expenditure on sickness and health

Expenditures on sickness and health comprises mostly of paid sick leave in the event of illness and health care services. Health care services comprises of both in-patient and out-patient care. Financing of this policy area is by public authorities, employers, employees, and others.
Because the expenditure area is mainly financed by taxation or as pay-as-you-go, there is an almost insignificant amount of transferring to funding.

Social expenditure on sickness and health

In the Nordic countries expenditure on sickness and health as benefits in kind (services) is much higher than the expenditure on cash benefits.

The available data on expenditure as percent of GDP show that the level of expenditure on sickness and health has been between 6 and 8 percent of GDP since 2000. The level has been somewhat higher in Iceland most of the period and has increased in all countries reporting expenditure for the year 2020. However, the rate in 2020 is also affected by the fact that GDP is lower in 2020 compared to the years before.

Changes in expenditure since 2010

Since 2010 there has been no significant change to the level of expenditure on cash benefits, which mainly consists of paid sick leave. The level of expenditure is highest in Norway and Iceland and has been slightly increasing in Sweden. In Finland and Denmark, the level of expenditure has been almost constant.

Compared to expenditure on cash benefits, all countries have naturally higher expenditure on benefits in kind as this covers all aspects of the health care system.

It is an area of increase in expenditure, with the highest level of expenditure in Iceland and Norway, and Finland at the lowest level. But in all countries, it seems that there has been a slightly higher increase since 2016. Only the Swedish data show an increase in 2020 compared to the previous years. Any increase in activities due to Covid-19- is not recognizable in the total expenditure, and the available data does not include information on changes in provided services at sublevels.

Source of financing

The data on expenditure consists also of sources of financing. The financing of expenditure on sickness and health comes from several sources such as public authorities, employers, employees, and other.

In all Nordic countries the financing of the health care sector comes primarily from the public authorities, though there are different rules concerning individuals’ obligation to pay for health care across the countries.

The level of public financing of expenditure on sickness and health have increased over the years, and especially since 2016 in all countries. The level is highest in Iceland and Norway, and lowest in Finland.

The financing of expenditure on sickness and health by employers show that there are huge differences across the Nordic countries.

Though there a similarity in the available data demonstrating, that the financing by employers mainly cover cash benefits, the differences remaining noticeable.

In Norway, Iceland and increasingly also in Sweden, the level of employer financing cash benefits is high. It has increased the most in Sweden and Iceland since 2010 and has been somewhat level in Norway.

The available data show that the level has decreased in Finland and has been continuously low in Denmark. The latter indicating that the expenditure on the entire section of sickness and health is mainly tax-financed.