According to a report published by McKinsey, over the past 50 years, spending on health care has consistently outpaced broader economic growth. What will happen if that trend persists? For almost 50 years, healthcare spending has grown by 2 percentage points in excess of GDP growth across all Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). countries. As a result, health care has become a much bigger part of most of these economies.
It is set to become bigger still. If current trends persist to 2050, most OECD countries will spend more than a fifth of GDP on health care. By 2080 Switzerland and the United States will devote more than half of GDP to it—and by 2100 most other OECD countries will reach this level of spending. While such a scenario is difficult to conceive, observers in 1960 would have viewed as far-fetched any forecast that in 40 years Western Europe would spend about 9 percent of GDP on health care. Of course, that prediction came true.
Health care leaders fervently hope that the projections are off the mark. What will have to change to prevent health care from devouring half of a national economy? Even if the excess growth of health care spending over GDP is somehow cut in half, health care will by 2100 be the world’s largest economic sector—and in many countries, the largest economic problem.
What can we do to combat this issue, how can we make healthcare affordable so that advanced nations do not run into significant economic issues, and developing nations are able to develop their much-needed healthcare infrastructure and services? How can we truly transform healthcare systems and the delivery of healthcare services, which is so essential to the continued progress of humanity.