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Spain health cuts among Europe's largest

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Spain health cuts among Europe's largest
Photo of doctors: Shutterstock
09:41 CET+01:00
Cuts to health care spending in Spain were three times higher than the European average from 2009 to 2012, with waiting lists to see specialists an area of particular concern for the country, a new OECD report shows.

Spain cut its health care spending by 1.9 percent a year against an average of 0.6 percent in the 35 countries looked at in the OECD's new Health at a Glance: Europe 2014 report shows.

While half of the 35 countries trimmed their health spending in that period, Spain's cuts were only exceeded by Greece, Luxembourg, Ireland, Croatia, Portugal and Cyprus.

Most of those savings in Spain came from a reduced pharmaceutical bill after the government excluded around 400 medications from the national health service, according to Spain's El País.

However, Spain's health spending level of 9.3 percent of GDP remains above the European average of 8.7 percent.

People in the country also live longer than anywhere else in Europe — an average of 82.5 years, just ahead of Italy and 5.5 years longer than in 1990, partly because of the country's universal health cover, according to experts consulted by Spain's 20 minutos newspaper.

The OECD report shows Spanish levels of obesity are around average for Europe at 16.7 percent while 23.9 percent of Spaniards are smokers, against and EU average of 22.8 percent.

However, long waiting lists for some types of surgery were highlighted by the OECD as a problem.  

Spaniards have to wait 100 days for cataract surgery against the 30 days in the Netherlands. For hip surgery, the comparison is 150 days against 40 days.  

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