Health policies and data

Health Policies


Health Brochure Cover

Within the OECD, most of the work on health is carried out by the Health Division of the Directorate for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs. 

Our mission – advising policy makers and informing public and private stakeholders and citizens on how to address demands for more and better quality health care – is particularly important with public budgets under strain. We develop reliable statistics of health system performance and help countries benchmark their policies against high-performing health systems.

To learn more about our areas of work, download our new brochure.








Despite remarkable progress in health status and life expectancy in OECD countries over the past decades, there remain large inequalities not only across countries, but also across population groups within each country. Most OECD countries have endorsed, as major policy objectives, the reduction of inequalities in health status and the principle of equal access to health care based on need. The OECD regularly monitors to what extent these policy objectives are achieved, as well as the potential benefits and costs of various policy interventions that might help reduce health inequalities.



Mental ill-health is widespread and its impact on people’s achievement in life is substantial. The large costs mental ill-health generates for people, families, workplaces and society as a whole is a major and growing concern for OECD governments in recent years. The OECD is responding to this rising interest with a range of projects looking at (i) mental health care policies and reforms, (ii) the link between mental ill-health and work, (iii) health care quality aspects, and (iv) the impact of education, skills and mental ill-health.


The OECD is a global leader in collecting, reporting and benchmarking health system performance and health care quality indicators. The Patient-Reported Indicators Survey (PaRIS) aims to address critical information gaps and build a patient-centred view of health system performance.



Pharmaceuticals have undoubtedly contributed to improvements in life expectancy and quality of life of many patients, but recent trends on increased spending and soaring launch prices of new medicines raise a number of concerns.



There is rising concern about the expected increase in the burden of chronic diseases in OECD countries, particularly in relation to changing lifestyles.



‌As health spending rises, there is pressure to ensure that resources help people live healthier lives. Most OECD countries have seen increased public interest in ensuring that patients receive care that is safe, effective, and responsive to their needs.



The OECD monitors and evaluates key aspects of universal health coverage, and assesses the future sustainability of universal health systems. OECD country experiences can also offer valuable lessons for other countries seeking to attain universal health coverage.





We advise countries on how to meet future demand for health professionals and how to manage the supply of health workers, by reviewing policies related to education and training, continuous professional development, geographic distribution and immigration.


Work on countries and regions

Health Reviews and country-specific work


The Country Health Profiles 2019 provide a concise and policy-relevant overview of health and health systems in the EU/European Economic area, emphasizing the particular characteristics and challenges in each country against a backdrop of cross-country comparisons. Each Country Health Profile provides a short synthesis of

  • health status
  • risk factors
  • the organisation of the health system,
  • and the effectiveness, accessibility and resilience of the health system

The Country Health Profiles are an important step in the European Commission’s State of Health in the EU cycle and are the joint work of the OECD and the European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies, in cooperation with the European Commission. This is the second series of biennial country health profiles, published on 28 November 2019.


The OECD Reviews of Public Health, launched in October 2017, provide in-depth analysis and policy recommendations to strengthen priority areas of countries’ public health systems, highlighting best practice examples that allow learning from shared experiences, and the spreading of innovative approaches.

Topics covered within this series of health reviews include unhealthy diets and obesity, preventing harmful alcohol use, health checks and preventive screening, responding to public health emergencies, and more.

The Health Division publishes OECD Reviews of Health Systems, which represent in-depth studies of the health system of member countries, with a particular focus on economic issues, as well as OECD Health Care Quality Reviews which seek to examine what works and what does not work in different countries – both to benchmark the efforts of countries and to provide advice on reforms to improve their health system

Access all health-related content by country (reports, country notes, Policy Briefs, etc.) at

OECD Work on Asia: OECD/Korea Policy Centre

The Joint OECD/Korea Policy Centre is an international cooperation organisation established by a Memorandum of Understanding between the OECD and the Government of the Republic of Korea. The major functions of the Centre are to research international standards and policies on international taxation, competition, public governance, and social policy sectors in OECD member countries and to disseminate research outcomes to public officials and experts in the Asian region. In the area of health and social policy, the Centre promotes policy dialogue and information sharing between OECD countries and non-OECD Asian/Pacific countries and economies.


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