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Currently showing: Funding longer lives > Health/medicine

15 May 13 15:55

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


Alicia Montoya - 21 May 2013, 6:03 a.m.

While I understand why costs are rising, are there not other forces that could bring them down? For instance, how much can technology help lower costs by providing regular check-ups (without the need for a doctor) and by predicting conditions before they develop, therefore also hopefully lowering care costs? I just read about a new wave of apps and devices that make it possible to check most of your vitals with a smartphone:

Séverine Rion, Head L&H R&D Europe - 21 May 2013, 9:59 p.m.

I think our most impactful investment to better manage future healthcare costs is the health education of our children. If we learn them how to eat helathily, how to enjoy making their daily 12'000-15'000 recommended steps (BMI - referenced cut-points for pedometer - determined steps/day in adults. Journal of Physical Activity and Health 2008 (5) Suppl 1. S126-S139), and how to take care of their environment, for example, the future global burden of disease may look very different from the picture we have today. Chronical diseases like diabetes, obesity or cardiovascular diseases, but as well cancer may have a much lower prevalence in the future.
More closely health monitoring, as mentioned by Alicia, may also be a safe way to prevent the development of, so far, uncurable diseases. But I think that we need education in this field as well, in a way, that self-monitoring becomes an obvious activity for future generations, like is for me brushing my teeth before going to bed for example.
So, if we want to prevent future generations from unsustainable health care costs, and maybe more importantly, from suffering from chronical diseases,
how can we, as an industry, influence a positive health development of our youth?
Let's have this question in mind when developing innovative producs or entering strategic partnerships...

Alicia Montoya - 27 May 2013, 9:49 a.m.

Funny, that's exactly what Alison Martin said about beating obesity at this year's WEF annual meeting in Davos:

And I totally agree: Kids are the future. They need to understand the risks we face and make the right choices as citizens, employees at corporations, voters of political representatives locally / nationally. And for that to happen, education and transparency are key.

Nicola Oliver - 6 Jun 2013, 4:15 p.m.

Recent OECD analysis suggests that health care spending growth has contributed to the improvement in life expectancy, but other determinants such as rising living standards, environmental improvements, lifestyle changes and education are also important drivers.
The OECD suggest that further progress in population health status and life expectancy can be achieved by putting greater emphasis on public health and disease prevention especially among disadvantaged groups, and improving the quality and performance of health care systems.

link to the web-page with excellent analysis of percentage of GDP on health expenditure and life expectancy by country:

Link to Gapminder, superb interactive map on GDP per capita and life expectancy:$majorMode=chart$is;shi=t;ly=2003;lb=f;il=t;fs=11;al=30;stl=t;st=t;nsl=t;se=t$wst;tts=C$ts;sp=5.59290322580644;ti=2011$zpv;v=0$inc_x;mmid=XCOORDS;iid=phAwcNAVuyj1jiMAkmq1iMg;by=ind$inc_y;mmid=YCOORDS;iid=phAwcNAVuyj2tPLxKvvnNPA;by=ind$inc_s;uniValue=8.21;iid=phAwcNAVuyj0XOoBL%5Fn5tAQ;by=ind$inc_c;uniValue=255;gid=CATID0;by=grp$map_x;scale=log;dataMin=283;dataMax=110808$map_y;scale=lin;dataMin=18;dataMax=87$map_s;sma=49;smi=2.65$cd;bd=0$inds=;example=75

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