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What Is Happening With Health Plans Globally?

By November 29, 2023Commentary

We have posted several times on what is happening with health costs and health benefit costs in the US.  Some of the same trends are found globally, even with.very different health systems.  A report from Willis Towers Watson discusses those trends based on a survey of 224 insurers in 66 countries.  The global average medical cost increase was 10.7% in 2023.  That is projected to decline slightly, to a 9.9% rise in 2024.  Inflation and a rebound in utilization following the epidemic are primary reasons given for these steep increases.  While all areas have experienced these spending rises, South and Central America and the Middle East and Africa have seem somewhat higher trends, and Asia somewhat lower ones.

Around the world, insurers cite musculoskeletal conditions and mental health issues as two primary cost drivers over the next few years.  As you might imagine, cancer is the major spending category and also will contribute to spending growth.  Technology, including very expensive drugs, are a particular problem not just for the US, but other countries as well.  Insurers are emphasizing telehealth as one way to control costs, but I doubt it has much impact.  Most countries rely on limiting the amount paid to providers to rein in costs.  Private insurers in those countries benefit from such limits.  No one seems to have a great approach to improving health and limiting sickness, especially as the population ages.   (WTW Report)

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