Health spending on cancer in Asia-Pacific

Hofmarcher T, Keel G, Lindgren P

This is the second sub-report of the main report “Cancer care and access to cancer drugs in Asia-Pacific”.

It describes health spending on cancer and its consequences for patients in 14 countries and locations (called “markets” in the report) in Asia-Pacific. They are grouped into 7 high-income markets (Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan) and 7 middle-income markets (China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam).

The sub-report provides a comparative analysis of the 14 markets. The main findings are:

1. Access to cancer care is limited in many markets in Asia-Pacific – in terms of population covered, services covered, and/or costs of services covered. This affects patient outcomes negatively, and the lack of access conflicts with an individual’s right to health.

2. Total health expenditure (financed via public and private sources) as a share of GDP in middle-income markets (4% on average) were approximately half of that in high-income markets (8%) in Asia-Pacific in 2018.

3. Australia, Japan, and New Zealand were the top-spending high-income markets with public health spending exceeding $3,000 per capita. Public health spending was less than $300 per capita in all middle-income markets, ranging from $289 in China down to $20 in India.

4. Limited evidence suggests that health spending on cancer care accounts for around 5-9% of total health spending in high-income markets in Asia-Pacific. In Indonesia and Thailand, cancer care spending (excl. OOP) is as low as 1-2% of total health spending.

5. Around 50% of all cancer patients and their families face financial catastrophe in middle-income markets. This proportion is lower in Thailand, which might be related to well-established universal health coverage granting access to cancer care services at both public and private health care facilities.

6. Health care expenditure per capita correlate strongly with cancer patient outcomes. This signals a clear need, in particular in middle-income markets, to secure additional health funding to improve patient outcomes.

The report was funded by Merck Sharp & Dohme (MSD). Responsibility for the analysis, interpretations, and conclusions, as well as errors or omissions lies solely with the authors.

Previously published IHE Reports on cancer care and access to cancer drugs in Asia-Pacific:

Cancer care and access to cancer drugs in Asia-Pacific – Introduction
IHE Report 2021:3a, IHE: Lund, Sweden

Cancer care and access to cancer drugs in Asia-Pacific – Executive summary
IHE Report 2021:3b, IHE: Lund, Sweden

The burden of cancer in Asia-Pacific
IHE Report 2021:3c, IHE: Lund, Sweden

For more information, please contact Thomas Hofmarcher

Download the report

IHE Report 2021:3d, IHE: Lund, Sweden