Beats | July 18, 2017

The 2030 price tag for universal health care

The team at


Last week, we showcased 11 ideas on how to achieve affordable universal healthcare. Now comes the Sustainable Development Goals Health Price Tag: $371 billion a year.

The World Health Organization, in a study published this week, estimates the costs to deliver 16 of the 2030 health targets in 67 emerging-market economies that together represent three-quarters of the world’s population. The price tag, an increase of $237 billion over current spending, could help prevent 97 million premature deaths between now and 2030, said the WHO. For about $58 per person per year, such care could also add up to 8.4 years of life expectancy in some countries.

Beyond basic medical supplies such as medicines, vaccines and syringes, the report identified health system investments, which account for 75% of costs. These include adding 23 million health workers, and building, operating and equipping 415,000 new hospitals, labs and clinics. National governments could meet 85% of that the SDG health price tag, says the report. The remainder must come from donors or the private sector.

“Universal health coverage is ultimately a political choice,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the new director-general of the WHO. “It is the responsibility of every country and national government to pursue it.”