Just as gravity keeps us firmly grounded, universal forces seem to drive healthcare costs ever higher.
Several major socioeconomic and demographic trends compound the impact of 'medical advances' (an unsatisfactory if convenient term for innovations in clinical practice, frequently at a higher price than before). Foremost of these mega-trends is 'ageing societies', given the exponential rise in healthcare costs with age and for financing the social care needs of the elderly.
The increase in wealth- and lifestyle-related disorders, such as obesity, and the expectation of quality healthcare by the new middle classes in high-growth countries, will also contribute to future cost escalation.
With US health expenditure at ~18% of GDP and rising, and many governments struggling to finance their current share of healthcare spending, it is interesting to contemplate how the landscape may change for the next generation.
In our global work, we see many governments looking to the private health insurance sector to help contain costs and channel resources more effectively via insurance-based solutions. Increasingly, the role for government is likely to be one of ensuring universal access to privately-managed health finance and meeting the health 'premium' for disadvantaged groups.
It seems inevitable that our children will have to bear greater personal responsibility for their own healthcare costs as they grow older.
These are exciting times to be a health re/insurer; the range of opportunities for us to enable efficient, insurance-based schemes is truly diverse. In doing so, maybe we can also effect some gravitational pull on the cost of healthcare?
Let's hope so … for our kids' sake.
Category: Funding longer lives: Health/medicine