Background: There has been and still is a big discussion about exaggerating health expenditure in Norway and Sweden. This comparative study examined the cost of health expenditure in Norway compared to Sweden and investigated if there are any differences between the two countries.
Methods: We compared data from OECD health data, Statistics Sweden, and Statistics Norway. The data are comparable since they all use OECD´s ”A System of Health Accounts”. The accounts include the expenditures for health, i.e both private and public expenditures for consumption and investment in health services. The study does not take the quality of the services provided into account.
Results: In 1995 the rate of health expenditures were similar in both Norway and Sweden. In 2005 Norways´ expenditures in purchasing power parity (PPP) were 50 % higher than Sweden´s. In Norwegian kroner the health expenditures were 63 % more expensive in Norway than in Sweden. In 2004 Norway had 2.9 % more doctors , 40.6 % more nurses than Sweden, and in 2005 Norway had 45 % more acute beds than Sweden. The average differences in salaries were among physician 12.7 %, nurses 23.7 %, and nurse´s assistent 19.7 % more expensive in Norway than in Sweden.´Conclusion: Norways health system is much more expensive than Swedens. The main reasons for the higher expenditures are a larger working staff with a relatively higher salary and more acute beds.