HEALTHCARE | Staff Reporter, Hong Kong

Healthcare spending may double to $315b by 2033

Hospital-based care accounted for total health expenditure of $75.1b in 2018.

Hong Kong’s healthcare spending is estimated to double from $175b to $315b by 2033 on the back of increasing costs for healthcare services and proprietary medicines which have been observed to be higher than CPI and general inflation, according to Asia Care Group’s (ACG) 2019 Hong Kong Healthcare market report.

The report found that proprietary medicines and supplies presented the most significant change in the past 15 years, with extraordinary increases between 79-134% in expenditure on this category of commodity per month, depending on the type of housing individuals reside in.

Meanwhile, ACG observed that spending remains focused on acute-centric models of care, with hospital-based care accounting for total health expenditure of $75.1b, which is more than expenditure on all other categories of spend combined.

“Over a ten-year period, spending increased across all categories of healthcare delivery,” the firm said in a statement. “However, growth in spending on preventative care saw the lowest increases of just 4.8% in public and 4.3% in private settings. This is problematic given the rise in non-communicable diseases (NCDs) that necessitate sustainable systems to place greater focus on primary care and prevention.

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The total number of hospital beds for both public and private facilities is projected to reach nearly 40,000 by year 2026, the report highlighted. At the same time, ACG projects the bed to elderly patient ratio to drop in the coming decade, experiencing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of -2.67% between 2019 and 2026, which reflects that the planned increase in bed numbers will be insufficient to cope with the demands of an ageing population unless a new model of care evolves.

The report noted that over a 10-year period, there was a 16% CAGR in deaths attributable to dementia. Amongst those aged 65 and over, over 40% reported themselves as having one or more chronic condition.

“There is an urgent need to evolve new models of care, principally focused on better primary care. We must also find better ways of bridging the public/private divide, either through public-private partnership (PPP) or, perhaps, through independent price regulation to cool the overheated private sector market,” Thalia Georgiou, managing partner for ACG, said in a statement.

ACG’s analysis estimated that the corporate primary healthcare market in Hong Kong reached $3.9b in 2017, with the top five clinic chains accounting for 80% of market share by total revenue.  

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