Essay Health Economics

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Cost-benefit, cost-effectiveness and cost-utility analyses are forms of economic evaluation which are useful in health economics for comparing costs and allocating resources. Health economics is widely relevant to governments and the health sector in implementation of new policy, as it concerns the allocation of resources in the context of a limited budget, or 'scarcity'. Economic evaluation is a potential tool for setting priorities in health, though it is only one of many potential criteria, including overall budget and public attitudes and wants. Economic evaluation is already in use in some settings, such as in pharmaceutical company proposals for government subsidisation, but there is room for expansion across the field of…show more content…
Changing factors such as aging populations and new technologies becoming available are increasing expectations from people throughout the world, and decision makers must make rational choices to maximise benefits to population health whilst working with limited resources. Yothasamut et al (2009) summarise this by observing that "health care resources in every setting are always constrained, while unlimited demand is observed". The 'best' choices in the context of economics are the ones which maximise utility (individual satisfaction through consumption of goods) and welfare, the sum utility experienced by all individuals in society. Decision makers often have to seek satisfactory rather than optimal solutions, also known as working with 'bounded rationality' (Simon 1957 in Williams et al 2008), as it is important to pursue both efficiency and equity in the funding of health care. Therefore, it may be unsuitable to fund the most cost effective option if it sacrifices the equal distribution of benefits. Research in health economics can take a normative or positive approach and this reflects the balance needed between cost control and equity when making economic decisions. Positive economic research and analysis is concerned with 'how things are' and seeks to explain economic phenomena, whilst normative economic research and analysis is concerned with 'how things ought to be' and relies on value

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