Since the prevalence of many chronic health conditions increases with age we might anticipate that as the population ages the proportion with one or more such conditions would rise, as would the cost of treatment. We ask three questions: How much would the overall prevalence of chronic conditions increase in a quarter century if age-specific rates of prevalence did not change? How much would the requirements for health care resources increase in those circumstances? How much difference would it make to those requirements if people had fewer chronic conditions? We conclude that the overall prevalence rates for almost all conditions associated mostly with old age would rise by more than 25 percent and that health care requirements would grow more rapidly than the population - more than twice as rapidly in the case of hospital stays - if the rates for each age group remained constant. We conclude also that even modest reductions in the average number of conditions at each age could result in substantial savings.
chronic conditions aging population health care resources