Health accounts are a way for countries to monitor health spending across multiple streams, regardless of the entity or institution that financed and managed that spending. They allow health administrators to learn from past expenditure and improve planning and allocation of resources throughout the system, thereby increasing efficiency and accountability. The system generates consistent and comprehensive data on health spending in a country, which in turn can contribute to evidence-based policy making. Within this system, countries can track changes in policy priorities and understand if the introduction of reforms and new programs resulted in changes in health resources allocation and expenditure.
Understanding the details of health spending is essential and allows countries to improve their systems, ultimately to make them fairer and better serve the people. Health accounts help to protect people from catastrophic health bills and reduce inequalities in health. They are seen as an essential step in creating a universal health coverage system.
WHO works with Member States and partners to support the implementation of the health accounts system towards the goal of countries attaining universal health coverage. Through the Health Accounts Country Platform, WHO provides countries with the accounting framework System of Health Accounts (SHA) 2011, tools and technical support to institutionalize and set up a harmonized, integrated platform for annual and timely collection of health expenditure data.
To this end, the Global health expenditure database (GHED) was created to compile internationally comparable data on health spending for close to 190 countries from 2000 to 2017. As an open access platform, it helps countries compare health expenditure data towards a better understanding of how money is spent on health care in different countries, how much is contributed by households, insurance companies and governments, on which aspects of the health care system priority is given, and more. WHO works with Member States to update the database annually using available data from public and privates sources.