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Continuing to offer healthcare to all in Europe will require rationing of medical services according to new research
By Finfacts Team
Mar 24, 2011 - 1:13 AM
consolidation of medical facilities is on the way as European public expenditure
may rocket to 14% of GDP in 2030 from 8% in 2000
Across Europe, healthcare is barely managing to pay its way. Not only are the
methods for raising funds to cover its costs inadequate, but - - of even greater
concern - - the costs themselves are set to soar. According to a World Bank
official, public expenditure on healthcare in the EU could jump from 8% of GDP
in 2000 to 14% in 2030 - - and continue growing beyond that date. The overriding
concern of Europe’s healthcare sector is to find ways to balance budgets and
A new Economist Intelligence Unit report, The future of healthcare in
Europe, (pdf), sponsored by Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson,
explores the challenges involved in putting European healthcare on a sound
financial footing. The study investigates the drivers of cost inflation in
healthcare and means of taming it. To sharpen the focus on the policy
alternatives, the study offers five contrasting scenarios of the European
healthcare sector in the year 2030.
The research produced the following key findings:
- Healthcare costs are rising faster than countries’ ability to
pay them. The main drivers of rising healthcare costs in Europe
are: ageing populations and the related rise in chronic disease; costly
technological advances; patient demand driven by increased knowledge of
options and by poorer health habits; and legacy priorities and financing
structures of the healthcare system which are ill-suited to today’s
- Seven trends will shape healthcare over the next two decades:
o Health spending will continue to rise, not only due to inflation but
also thanks to growing recognition by policymakers that improved health is
linked with greater national wealth
o Keeping the universal healthcare model will require rationing of services
and consolidation of healthcare facilities, as public resources fall short
o General physicians will become more important as gatekeepers to the system
and as coordinators of treatment for patients with multiple health issues.
o More effective public health measures and fundamental shifts in attitude
will be needed to promote healthy behaviours and discourage unhealthy ones.
o European governments will need to find a way to improve collection and
transparency of health data in order to prioritise investment decisions.
o Patients will need to take more responsibility for their own health,
treatment and care.
o Governments will have to tackle bureaucracy and liberalise rules
restricting the roles of healthcare professionals, to help control costs.
- Five possible scenarios for European healthcare in 2030 depict
extreme outcomes of the decisions facing healthcare planners today. While
fictitious and intended to fuel debate, the future is likely to feature some
elements of these scenarios:
o Technology triumphs and cures chronic disease, while e-health takes a
prominent role in the management of healthcare.
o European nations join forces to create a single pan-European healthcare
o Preventive medicine takes precedence over treating the sick.
o European healthcare systems focus on vulnerable members of society.
o European nations privatise all of healthcare, including its funding.
To research this report, the Economist
Intelligence Unit surveyed the literature and data available on Europe's
healthcare systems. The EIU also conducted 28 in-depth interviews with leading
experts in the different professional roles that make up the healthcare sector:
academics; clinicians; healthcare providers; payers; policymakers; medical
suppliers; think tanks and representatives of patients. The data and interview
comments were then analysed to define trends likely to impact the direction of
healthcare in the next two decades.
Finally, bearing in mind these trends, the
developed five scenarios, each a distillation of a school of thought on
healthcare reform. The intention is to use these scenarios as a policy-neutral
set of platforms upon which some degree of agreement can be reached about the
future direction of healthcare. The Economist Intelligence Unit said it bears sole
responsibility for the content of this report. The findings and views do not
necessarily reflect the views of the sponsor. The interviews were carried out by
Alexandra Wyke, Paul Kielstra and Conrad Heine. Alexandra Wyke was the author of
the report, and Aviva Freudmann and Delia Meth-Cohn were the editors.
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