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Global healthcare spend to remain stable

01 September 2020 Jing Zhang Milena Izmirlieva

Despite projected declines in GDP, driven by self-imposed restrictions on economic activity during lockdowns designed to reduce the spread of COVID-19, healthcare spending will remain stable throughout this year and next, before returning to normal growth levels thereafter. We define healthcare spending as: all public (funded by taxation or mandatory health insurance) plus all private (which includes voluntary health insurance, out of pocket spending, and private other.

Healthcare spending has remained remarkably stable at the global level against the background of declines in other sectors of the economy. Government commitments to maintaining spending growth at a level consistent with pre-pandemic pledges and legislation as well as additional funding spurred by the pandemic will partially offset the recession effects of the hit to GDP, the rise in unemployment and consequent reduction in tax revenue

The additional government healthcare funding needed to combat COVID-19 will partially offset the headwinds emanating from the worsening global macroeconomic environment, netting low, but positive growth in healthcare spending for most of the major economies in 2020.

The pandemic has unleashed broader support by the general public, corporate entities and governments for healthcare system investment, which will drive up public healthcare spending even as public spending in other areas of the economy is deprioritized. Global healthcare spending is forecast to decline 0.1% to USD 8.3 trillion in 2020 before growing 5.8% to USD 8.8 trillion in 2021.

Some highlights from around the globe:

  • The US pharmaceutical market is forecast to grow 2.0% to USD524 billion in 2020 and 7.0% in 2021.
  • For the EU5 markets, health spend is projected to decline 1.6% to USD1.3 trillion in 2020, while pharmaceutical sales are expected to decline 1.6% to USD173 billion in 2020 and to grow 3.4% in 2021.
  • The Japanese pharma market is forecast to gain 1.0% to USD65 billion in 2020 and fall 0.5% in 2021.
  • Pharmaceutical sales in the BRIC-MT markets are projected to decline 2.9% in 2020 to USD280 billion and to grow 11.3% in 2021.

Posted 01 September 2020 by Jing Zhang, Healthcare Economist, IHS and

Milena Izmirlieva, Director, Life Sciences Research, IHS Markit

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