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A more active role for consumers will decelerate health spending over the next two decades

New data-driven business models will create what Deloitte calls a "well-being dividend," shaving billions off projected health spend.

Jeff Lagasse, Associate Editor

More agency among consumers, and patients who take more active roles in their healthcare journeys, is a trend that will help to curb spending, in part by recognizing the early onset of disease and addressing it proactively, according to a new report from consulting firm Deloitte.

This is reflected in the numbers: While healthcare spending is projected to rise to $8.3 trillion by 2040, that's about $3.5 trillion less than an estimate from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and the authors attribute this to more proactive consumers and emerging technologies.

WHAT'S THE IMPACT

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Before the COVID-19 pandemic, CMS' Office of the Actuary projected that healthcare spending would see 5.3% growth each year for the next couple of decades, citing 2019 figures showing that healthcare spending accounted for 18% of the U.S. GDP, to the tune of about $3.8 trillion.

But new business models, particularly ones that integrate data to improve patient wellness, will create what Deloitte calls a "well-being dividend," with the return on investment represented by the $3.5 trillion that's shaved off of CMS' estimates.

An example of a technology that could facilitate this change can be found in interoperability, or the ability of disparate electronic health record and data systems to communicate with one another. This could grease the wheels toward increased data sharing between health plans and clinicians, thereby creating a personalized picture of each patients' health status.

Increased access to personalized health information will likely result in consumers taking a more active role in their healthcare, Deloitte found, since ownership of health data can increase a person's sense of responsibility for their own well-being.

Breakthroughs in science will also be a contributor, especially since some regulatory processes have been streamlined to get diagnostic tests and therapies to market more speedily, the report found.

THE LARGER TREND

Total healthcare spending went up $3.8 trillion in 2019, a relatively stable increase of 4.6% compared to 2018, which saw a 4.7% increase, according to the 2019 National Health Expenditures report, released in December 2020 by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' Office of the Actuary.

The estimates only take into account trends through the end of 2019 and don't factor in the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, which is still surging throughout the country despite the U.S. embarking on vaccine distribution efforts.

At 17.7%, healthcare spending was stable compared to the 17.6% share recorded in 2018, and occurred as health spending increased at a slightly faster rate than gross domestic product.
 

Twitter: @JELagasse
Email the writer: jeff.lagasse@himssmedia.com