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APOCALYPSE NO: Population Aging and the Future of Health Care Systems

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  • R.G. Evans
  • K.M. McGrail
  • S.G. Morgan
  • M.L. Barer
  • C. Hertzman
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    Abstract

    Illness increases with age. All else equal, an older population has greater needs for health care. This logic has led to dire predictions of skyrocketing costs-- "apocalyptic demography". Yet numerous studies have shown that aging effects are relatively small, and all else is not equal. Cost projections rest on specific assumptions about trends in age- specific morbidity and health care use that are far from self-evident. Sharply contrasting assumptions, for example, are made by Fries, who foresees a "compression of morbidity" and falling needs. Long term trends in health care use in British Columbia show minimal effects of population aging, but major effects, up and down, from changes in age- specific use patterns. Why then is the demographic apocalypse story so persistent, despite numerous contrary studies? It serves identifiable economic interests.

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    File URL: http://socserv.mcmaster.ca/sedap/p/sedap59.pdf
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by McMaster University in its series Social and Economic Dimensions of an Aging Population Research Papers with number 59.

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    Length: 34 pages
    Date of creation: Oct 2001
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:mcm:sedapp:59

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    Keywords: aging; health care utilization; demography; health care financing;

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    Cited by:
    1. Peine & Ingo Rollwagen & Louis Neven, 2012. "Exploring new patterns of user involvement – baby boomers and the future of consumption," Innovation Studies Utrecht (ISU) working paper series 12-09, Utrecht University, Department of Innovation Studies, revised Sep 2012.
    2. Brigitte Dormont & Michel Grignon & Hélène Huber, 2006. "Health expenditure growth: reassessing the threat of ageing," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 15(9), pages 947-963.
    3. Constantina Safiliou-Rothschild, 2009. "Are Older People Responsible for High Healthcare Costs?," CESifo Forum, Ifo Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 10(1), pages 57-64, 04.
    4. Michel Grignon, 2005. "Aging, Health and Aggregate Medical Care Spending in France," Department of Economics Working Papers 2005-05, McMaster University.

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