Global Spending on Health Expected to Increase Significantly by 2040

Global spending on healthcare expected to exceed $18 trillion over next 25 years.

Total global spending on health care is expected to increase to $18.28 trillion by the year 2040, according to a study published by The Lancet.

Data collected from the World Bank Group and the Institute Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME)from 184 countries with varying income levels and geography.

Researchers predict higher income countries to spend $9019 per person in 2040. Upper-middle income countries are predicted to spend $1935.

Lower-middle income countries are predicted to spend $507 per person and low income countries are expected to spend only $164.

"We predict a widening -- not narrowing -- health spending divide among the world's poorest and wealthiest countries,” said study lead author Joseph Dieleman, PhD, in a press release. “Many countries that are grappling with the largest and most complex disease burdens will spend the least on health."

Researchers state that governments in low- and lower-middle income countries will most likely not meet an international benchmark of spending $86 per person in order to provide primary healthcare.

The lowest government spending, as a share of total health spending, is predicted to be in South Asia, at 33.2%, and sub-Saharan Africa, at 36.3%. It is predicted that all other governments will be paying 50% or more.

By 2040, 51.4% of total health spending in South Asia is projected to come from out-of-pocket spending. In Western Europe and other higher income countries, out-of-pocket spending is only expected to reach 11.4% of total health spending.

Predicted out-of-pocket spending in Latin America and the Caribbean will reach 28.6% and 31.3% in sub-Saharan Africa.

"The projected shortfalls in health spending in the world's poorest economies directly threaten the achievement of the health and poverty targets of Sustainable Development Goals," said Senior Director of Health, Nutrition and Population at the World Bank Group, Dr. Tim Evans. "As the Ebola crisis has demonstrated, we simply cannot afford to under-invest in health. Pragmatic strategies to raise more money for health and get more health for the money are a top priority at the World Bank Group."

Gaps in government aid have been addressed by international aid in the past, but it cannot always be counted on, according to the study.

Researchers concluded that prepaid health expenditures will have the largest increase, with evidence suggesting this growth as a transition from out-of-pocket spending.

Researchers conclude that they hope this study will encourage change in the way healthcare is funded.

"Policymakers, health advocates, and global leaders need to work together to assess where more resources can be raised for health and existing resources can be better leveraged," said IHME Director Dr. Christopher Murray. "Increased investments, including from donor countries, will ensure that health services are available for those most in need."