• Conference Proceeding

Influencing the economics of health care in the future


Holden, E. W., Hoerger, T., Trisolini, M., Rouse, D., & Wetterhall, S. (2010). Influencing the economics of health care in the future. In Jeddah Economic Forum 2010, The Global Economy 2020, Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudia Arabia, February 13-16, 2010,.


The provision of adequate and affordable health care to the world's population of almost 6.8 billion is one of the most pressing economic issues affecting our collective futures. Maintaining population health is an important and central goal for any country. It is essential to ensuring the capacity for the productivity and innovation necessary to address other societal problems and to concomitantly support as well as enhance future economic activity. Given the importance of the population's health to the future, it comes as no surprise that it is intimately interwoven into the other major issues at play on the world stage - climate change, resource scarcity, global aging, continued widespread poverty, racial and ethnic disparities, and conflict. The rapid pace of globalization and accompanying economic development over the last several decades have only served to further enhance the complex and interconnected nature of health care as a fundamental societal good.

Within the developed world where resources to support health care systems are relatively abundant, similarities in health care challenges for the future are apparent. In the developing world, where resources are often limited to nonexistent, associated health care challenges are more variable across countries and can be close to overwhelming. Inequities in access to primary health care across the world's populations continue to be a pervasive and vexing problem that threatens the ability to measurably improve health on a global level.

Rapid advances in the science and technology of health care over the last several decades have placed the health care arena in a unique position to improve health status as we move into the future, but only if coordinated and comprehensive health care policies can be implemented. These policies will vary depending upon the levels of economic and health care systems development in any one setting. Maintaining an appropriate balance between supporting the development and use of expensive cutting edge technology and investing in expanding less expensive, but proven primary care strategies will be a key factor for maximizing the value of health care investments. It is the tenet of this paper that capitalizing on science and technology to improve decision making, comprehensively addressing risk factor reduction and health promotion, and implementing coordinated health care policies will have a positive impact on containing health care costs and expenditures increases in the future.