NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Face Of Health Care Ten Years Ahead

February 24, 2000

Health-care costs will continue to rise, the ranks of the uninsured will grow and innovative new drug and treatment therapies will emerge -- all in the next ten years. Those and other health developments are being forecast by the Institute for the Future in Menlo Park, Calif.

Here are some of the trends ahead, according to Wendy Everett, author of the new study:

  • Health costs will rise 6.5 percent a year in the coming decade -- growing to 16 percent of gross domestic product by 2010, compared to about 13.5 percent now.
  • The number of Americans without health insurance will climb from about 44 million today to about 47 million.
  • Mental health problems -- particularly clinical depression -- will eclipse cancer as a leading cause of disability.
  • By 2005, there will be a significant oversupply of doctors and nurse practitioners -- with nearly three doctors replacing each one who retires.

As for future innovations, computers and the Internet will increasingly be used to monitor patients' health conditions For example, under-the-skin sensors could be employed to track blood glucose levels in diabetics. Vaccines will be used to bolster immune systems or target tumors.

Chronic illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes and arthritis will affect a growing percentage of the population. Disease prevention -- rather than treatment after the fact -- will be increasingly emphasized, the study predicts.

Source: Julie Appleby, "Future of Health: Costly," USA Today, February 24, 2000.


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