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Who’s Going Broke? Comparing Growth in Healthcare Costs in Ten OECD Countries

  • Laurence J. Kotlikoff

    ()

  • Christian Hagist

    ()

Government healthcare expenditures have been growing much more rapidly than GDP in OECD countries. For example, between 1970 and 2002 these expenditures grew 2.3 times faster than GDP in the U.S., 2.0 times faster than GDP in Germany, and 1.4 times faster than GDP in Japan. How much of government healthcare expenditure growth is due to demographic change and how much is due to increases in benefit levels; i.e., in healthcare expenditures per beneficiary at a given age? This paper answers this question for ten OECD countries -- Australia, Austria, Canada, Germany, Japan, Norway, Spain, Sweden, the UK, and the U.S. Specifically, the paper decomposes the 1970-2002 growth in each countrys healthcare expenditures into growth in benefit levels and changes in demographics.Although healthcare spending is growing at unsustainable rates in most, if not all, OECD countries, the U.S. appears least able to control its benefit growth due to the nature of its fee-forservice healthcare payment system. Consequently, the U.S. may well be in the worst long-term fiscal shape of any OECD country even though it is now and will remain very young compared to the majority of its fellow OECD members.

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Date of creation: Dec 2005
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Handle: RePEc:ess:wpaper:id:286
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  1. Sally C. Stearns & Edward C. Norton, 2004. "Time to include time to death? The future of health care expenditure predictions," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 13(4), pages 315-327.
  2. Peter Zweifel & Stefan Felder & Andreas Werblow, 2004. "Population Ageing and Health Care Expenditure: New Evidence on the "Red Herring"," The Geneva Papers on Risk and Insurance, The International Association for the Study of Insurance Economics, vol. 29(4), pages 652-666, October.
  3. Buchner, Florian & Wasem, Jürgen, 2004. ""Steeping" Of Health Expenditure Profiles," IBES Diskussionsbeiträge 139, University of Duisburg-Essen, Institute of Business and Economic Studie (IBES).
  4. Breyer, Friedrich & Felder, Stefan, 2006. "Life expectancy and health care expenditures: A new calculation for Germany using the costs of dying," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 75(2), pages 178-186, January.
  5. Benz, Ulrich & Fetzer, Stefan, 2004. "Indicators for Measuring Fiscal Sustainability: A Comparative Application of the OECD-Method and Generational Accounting," Discussion Papers 118, Institut für Finanzwissenschaft, Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg.
  6. Peter Zweifel & Stefan Felder & Markus Meiers, 1999. "Ageing of population and health care expenditure: a red herring?," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 8(6), pages 485-496.
  7. Tim Miller, 2001. "Increasing longevity and medicare expenditures," Demography, Springer, vol. 38(2), pages 215-226, May.
  8. Jennifer Roberts, 1999. "Sensitivity of elasticity estimates for OECD health care spending: analysis of a dynamic heterogeneous data field," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 8(5), pages 459-472.
  9. Friedrich Breyer & Volker Ulrich, 2000. "Gesundheitsausgaben, Alter und medizinischer Fortschritt: Eine Regressionsanalyse," Journal of Economics and Statistics (Jahrbuecher fuer Nationaloekonomie und Statistik), Justus-Liebig University Giessen, Department of Statistics and Economics, vol. 220(1), pages 1-17.
  10. Joseph P. Newhouse, 1992. "Medical Care Costs: How Much Welfare Loss?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 6(3), pages 3-21, Summer.
  11. Hansen, Paul & King, Alan, 1996. "The determinants of health care expenditure: A cointegration approach," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(1), pages 127-137, February.
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