Sustainability of publicly-funded health care systems concerns governments worldwide as health care absorbs increasing shares of public funds and GDP. Planning future requirements for health care services, providers and funding is typically based on applying current supply by age to demographic population projections. Temporal changes in age-specific health undermine this ‘constant use by age’ assumption and drive expenditure increases. An approach to estimating future health care requirements is presented incorporating cohort trends in health. Although overall health care requirements increase as the size and mean age of the population increase, these effects are mitigated substantially by cohort trends in health.
Professor Stephen Birch is Director of the Centre for the Business and Economics of Health at the University of Queensland. After a doctorate from University of York in 1988, he was Professor at the Centre for Health Economics and Policy Analysis at McMaster University, Canada until 2018. He served as senior editor of Social Science & Medicine for 15 years.
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