The cost of caring for patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) continues to increase worldwide. The cause is not only a steady increase in the prevalence of Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis in both developed and newly industrialised countries, but also the chronic nature of the diseases, the need for long-term, often expensive treatments, the use of more intensive disease monitoring strategies, and the effect of the diseases on economic productivity. This Commission draws together a wide range of expertise to discuss the current costs of IBD care, the drivers of increasing costs, and how to deliver affordable care for IBD in the future. The key conclusions are that (1) increases in health-care costs must be evaluated against improved disease management and reductions in indirect costs, and (2) that overarching systems for data interoperability, registries, and big data approaches must be established for continuous assessment of effectiveness, costs, and the cost-effectiveness of care. International collaborations should be sought out to evaluate novel models of care (eg, value-based health care, including integrated health care, and participatory health-care models), as well as to improve the education and training of clinicians, patients, and policy makers.