OECD Health at a Glance 2009: Key findings for Italy


The OECD’s latest edition of Health at a Glance shows that all countries could do better in providing good quality health care.

Quality of care

Italy does well in providing acute care for people with life-threatening conditions such as a heart attack or stroke, achieving lower mortality rates than most other OECD countries, although Nordic countries have even lower rates. Italy does well also in avoiding hospital admissions for people with chronic conditions such as asthma, chronic bronchitis and diabetes. 


  • In-hospital case-fatality rates within 30 days of admission for acute myocardial infarction (heart attack) are lower in Italy than the OECD average (4.0% in 2006 vs. 4.9% in 2007). Nordic countries (Iceland, Sweden, Denmark and Norway) achieve the lowest case-fatality rates (between 2.1% and 3.2%).
  • Similarly, deaths in hospital for both ischaemic and hemorrhagic stroke are lower in Italy than the OECD average, but Nordic countries have even lower rates.
  • Avoidable hospital admissions for asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD, or chronic bronchitis) and diabetes complications tend to be much lower in Italy than in other OECD countries.  However, hospital admission rates for hypertension and congestive heart failure are closer or even higher than the OECD average.  

Health Expenditure

Italy spent 8.7% of GDP on health in 2007, slightly less than the OECD average of 8.9%. Spending per person is also slightly lower than the OECD average. 


  • Total health spending accounted for 8.7% of GDP in Italy 2007, compared with an average of 8.9% across OECD countries. The United States (16.0%), France (11.0%) and Switzerland (10.8%) had high shares.
  • Italy spent 2686 USD per person on health in 2007 (adjusted for purchasing power parity), less than the OECD average of 2984 USD. Per capita health spending over 1997-2007 grew in real terms by 2.4% per year, less than the OECD average of 4.1%.
  • The public sector is the main source of health funding in all OECD countries, except Mexico and the United States. In Italy, 76.5% of health spending was funded by public sources in 2007, above the average of 73% for OECD countries. 


  • Journalists are invited to contact the OECD’s Media Relations Division (tel.: 33 1 45 24 97 00 or [email protected]) to obtain a copy of OECD Health at a Glance 2009.
  • For further information about the content of OECD Health at a Glance 2009, please contact Mark Pearson (tel. 33 1 45 24 92 69 or [email protected]) or Gaétan Lafortune (tel. 33 1 45 24 92 67 or [email protected]) in the OECD Health Division.
  • More information on OECD Health at a Glance 2009 is available at
  • For information on OECD's work on Italy, please visit


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