If recent trends continue, health expenditure in China is projected to grow 8.4 percent annually, from 5.3 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2015 to 9.1 percent of GDP in 2035. To understand how demographic factors, changes in health programs and other policy changes affect health spending in China, Tiemin Zhai of the China National Health Development Research Center and coauthors projected health expenditure by disease and function in the period 2015-35. The authors found that the expected growth will be largely driven by inpatient services, which are projected to grow 9.2 percent annually, from 46 percent of total health expenditure in 2015 to 53 percent in 2035. According to the authors, circulatory disease expenditure is projected to account for the largest percentage of health expenditure by disease type, growing from 18.7 percent in 2015 to 23.4 percent in 2035. The authors projected cumulative savings of 3,858 billion yuan from reducing the smoking rate by 50 percent and of 3,653 billion yuan in cumulative savings from reducing the rate of high blood pressure by 25 percent. To avoid unreasonable health expenditure growth in China, they recommend focusing on increasing growth in outpatient, primary health, and preventive health services; moderating growth in inpatient services; and reducing the rates of high blood pressure, tobacco smoking, and other risk factors.
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