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Forecasting the Cost of U.S. Health Care in 2040

  • Robert W. Fogel

One of the most important debates among health economists in rich nations is whether advances in biotechnology will spare their health care systems from a financial crisis. We must consider that prevalence rates of chronic diseases declined during the twentieth century and that this rate of decline has accelerated. However, health care costs may continue to increase even as the age of onset of chronic diseases is delayed, because the proportion of a cohort living to late ages will increase. The accelerating decline in the prevalence of chronic diseases during the course of the twentieth century supports the proposition that increases in life expectancy during the twenty-first century will be fairly large, but the effect on health care in the U.S. will be modest. The income elasticity for health services is calculated at 1.6, meaning that income expenditures on health care in the U.S. are likely to rise from a current level of about 15 percent to about 29 percent of GDP in 2040.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 14361.

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Date of creation: Sep 2008
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Fogel, Robert W., 2009. "Forecasting the cost of U.S. Health Care in 2040," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 31(4), pages 482-488, July.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14361
Note: HC
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  1. Costa, Dora L., 2004. "The Measure of Man and Older Age Mortality: Evidence from the Gould Sample," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 64(01), pages 1-23, March.
  2. Robert W. Fogel, 2007. "Capitalism and Democracy in 2040: Forecasts and Speculations," NBER Working Papers 13184, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Robert W. Fogel, 2003. "Forecasting The Demand For Health Care In Oecd Nations And China," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 21(1), pages 1-10, 01.
  4. Fogel, Robert William, 2000. "The Fourth Great Awakening and the Future of Egalitarianism," University of Chicago Press Economics Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 1, number 9780226256627.
  5. Stuck, Andreas E. & Walthert, Jutta M. & Nikolaus, Thorsten & Büla, Christophe J. & Hohmann, Christoph & Beck, John C., 1999. "Risk factors for functional status decline in community-living elderly people: a systematic literature review," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 48(4), pages 445-469, February.
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