SINGAPORE - Singapore has been ranked No. 2 in the world for health-care outcomes, according to a report by The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).
The Republic followed closely after Japan. South Korea was placed third.
The report "Health outcomes and cost: a 166-country comparison" assesses the efficiency of health-care systems globally, looking at value for money.
In a press release issued on Nov 26, the EIU described Singapore as having "a generous health-care system as well as high life expectancy, low rates of ill-health and low mortality".
It said Singapore achieves similar outcomes to Japan, which was ranked first, but at a lower cost.
Japan scored well for both life expectancy and the overall health of its population, which can partly be attributed to healthy diets and active lifestyles, the report said. Government pressure on pricing for health services and pharmaceuticals mean that Japan also has an established long-term care insurance system, to which people must contribute from the age of 40.
Similarly, South Korea achieves comparable outcomes to Japan, but spends just over one-third the amount per head of population, the report said. The country has benefited from a universal health-care system since 1989 as well as a steady supply of low-cost health-care workers from elsewhere in the region. South Korea was also the first Asian country to introduce economic evaluation for drugs, while patient co-payments are high and often deter people from seeking care.
The report shows that there is a high - but not complete - correlation between health expenditure and outcomes, measuring the health status of the general population in the world's health-care systems. There comes a point where countries spend a great deal extra on care that benefits their citizens little, if at all.
"Asia has low-cost health-care systems that deliver impressive results, but as outcomes improve and expectations rise, so it gets harder and more expensive to maintain progress," said Ana Nicholls, author of the report.
"It is important to view health-care spending not just as a cost but as an investment - and the emphasis should be on getting good value from that investment," she added.
The report also showed that countries in Asia, Europe and North America dominate the higher tiers, with health-care systems in the Middle East, the former Communist belt and Latin America occupying the middle. The lower three tiers are almost entirely made up of African countries, as well as some of the poorer Asian countries.