In Portugal, the population has experienced big changes in life expectancy over the last four decades. In the same period, healthcare expenditure has increased. Is population ageing the main reason? Given the expected increase in longevity, should we expect a
similar increase in future health expenditure? These were the two main questions that we seek to address in this review article.
The ageing of the Portuguese population challenged Portugal in many different ways, especially in what concerns population’s health and the Portuguese health system. We addressed the relation among ageing, health and health expenditure, identifying the economic impacts expected by the upcoming changes in the Portuguese health system.
This analysis was a case study focused on Portugal and covers the period between 1970 and 2012, a period of time when major social, economic and demographic changes occurred, particularly in the population’s access to health care.
The results doesn’t show enough evidence to conclude population ageing is a major driver of health expenditure, so the expected increase in individual and demographic ageing levels do not necessarily represent an increase in future health expenditure.
That doesn’t mean the existence of an ageing population won’t bring new challenges to the Portuguese health system, because it will, mainly about redefining its organization and the type of health services it will offer to the Portuguese population.
keywords: ageing; health; health expenditure; Portugal