Global medical costs will rise again in 2020

Medical care costs are set to rise again in 2020, with a projected increased of 6.8%, according to the 2020 Global Medical Trends Survey Report from Willis Towers Watson.

The survey tracks medical costs across 296 insurers in 79 countries and found that medical cost increases around the world have been mostly stable over the last several years. For example, medical costs rose 6.7% in 2019 from the previous year. A significant portion––41%-–of insurers also expect higher or significantly higher medical trends over the next three years.

The biggest increase in 2020 is expected in the Middle East and Africa, with a 9.3% jump from 2019. In Europe, costs will rise 4.3%, while Latin America costs are projected to drop from 12.2% in 2019 to 11.7%.

However, individual nations are expected to see dramatic changes in healthcare prices in 2020 as a result of instability or uncertainty. For instance, Venezuela’s medical costs are projected to rise 180% in 2020, pushing up the overall average for the region.

Individual conditions are also expected to have the highest costs in 2020, including cancer, cardiovascular disease and musculoskeletal and connective tissue conditions. A portion of experts are predicting that mental and behavioral health conditions will be among the top three most common (27%) and most expensive (26%) conditions over the next five years.

According to insurers, overuse of healthcare­­––with no real benefit––by both patients and practitioners is one of the top causes of driving medical costs higher. A whopping 73% cited an overuse of care by practitioners offering too many services and 66% cited insured members as responsible for overusing care as top drivers of cost.

In addition, 70% of insurers named new technology as a factor driving up cost of medical care.

“This largely replicates 2019’s previous results and speaks to insurers’ darkest fears that the conditions covered by their policies can be treated more effectively with new technology but that this treatment is more expensive,” the report reads.

See the full report here.