A Healthy Blog

Massachusetts health care — wonky, with a healthy dose of reality

Rising Health Costs Are a Global Problem

Rising Health Costs Are a Global Problem

February 7, 2008

Health Populi discusses "The Global Epidemic of Rising Health Costs."

The benefits consulting group [Watson Wyatt] found that health cost increases are growing faster than rates of inflation in 80% of countries surveyed. Thus, hyperinflation of health costs isn't just an American malaise, but a problem for most economically developed countries. Watson Wyatt discovered that the factors that drive health spending up in the U.S. are the same things that increase spending elsewhere: medical technology, increased utilization of health services, and the aging of the population. Aging's significant impact on health and pensions is particularly acute in Japan and western Europe, regions that are ahead of the U.S. on the demographic age wave.

Most of Africa and Asia, and much of Latin America (except for Brazil and Chile, which have their own health system and economic challenges) expect double-digit health cost increases this year. When you're feeling sick about double-digit health cost increases in the U.S. hitting 10-12%, ponder this: medical inflation in Venezuela this year will hit 25%, and in China, nearly 20%. On the hand, it's nice to live in Switzerland and France, where health inflation is expected to be 6% and 7%, respectively.