Levels of health care

In the curative domain there are various forms of medical practice. They may be thought of generally as forming a pyramidal structure, with three tiers representing increasing degrees of specialization and technical sophistication but catering to diminishing numbers of patients as they are filtered out of the system at a lower level. Only those patients who require special attention either for diagnosis or treatment should reach the second (advisory) or third (specialized treatment) tiers where the cost per item of service becomes increasingly higher. The first level represents primary health care, or first contact care, at which patients have their initial contact with the health-care system. Primary health care is an integral part of a country’s health maintenance system, of which it forms the largest and most important part. As described in the declaration of Alma-Ata, primary health care should be “based on practical, scientifically sound and socially acceptable methods and technology made universally accessible to individuals and families in the community through their full participation and at a cost that the community and country can afford to maintain at every stage of their development.” Primary health care in the developed countries is usually the province of a medically qualified physician; in the developing countries first contact care is often provided by nonmedically qualified personnel. The vast majority of patients can be fully dealt with at the primary level. Those who cannot are referred to the second tier (secondary health care, or the referral services) for the opinion of a consultant with specialized knowledge or for X-ray examinations and special tests. Secondary health care often requires the technology offered by a local or regional hospital. Increasingly, however, the radiological and laboratory services provided by hospitals are available directly to the family doctor, thus improving his service to ... (300 of 16486 words)

Encyclopedia of Public Health: Access To Health Services Top

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Rural environments present unique challenges for health care access. There are often shortages of medical personnel in rural areas, as well as transportation and distance barriers to care and an increasing economic destabilization of rural health care services. Since the mid-twentieth century, physicians have favored urban and suburban practice locations over rural areas. Physicians often need lucrative practices to repay high education debts, and they have been trained to use costly new technologies in diagnosis and treatment. Rural practice locations typically generate lower income for the physician and have fewer and older technology resources than urban and suburban locations. Modern medical school graduates are rarely well

this strategy often fails and the hospital must close. Lower population density also means a lower volume of patients and less provider income. the fewer the available health services and the longer the travel distances to access these services. Small rural health care providers.. a home health nurse may visit five patients in a morning within an urban apartment building. Prices. artery repair. diagnosis. Home-based services in rural areas must. Price controls most severely affect rural health systems. As costs increase. immunizations) situated in central locations. However. The majority of patients admitted to rural hospitals are either too frail to withstand travel to distant hospitals or cannot afford either the travel or the cost of care in urban areas. and other complex procedures require specialized medical teams. The lower the population density and the larger the area over which the population is distributed. and in patient's homes. People with financial resources and the ability to travel tend to use distant urban centers even for less complex needs. and the poor with no access to hospital inpatient care. Because of the distances between service locations or patient residences. while a nurse in a rural setting may visit only one or two patients. Primary care may be provided by nurse practitioners. for services include the minimum estimated cost of providing each service. churches. advanced trauma care.prepared to practice in rural environments. therefore. Reduced fees and the refusal of insurers to pay for care often destabilize private professional practices in rural areas. prenatal care. access public or charitable subsidization in order to remain economically viable. Specialty physician services (such as psychiatry or dermatology) may also be available through intermittent clinics in local facilities. and the entire community is left with no access to urgent or emergency care. such as health departments. and the economic viability of the services. Closures leave the very old. or home-health nurses. and facilities. or schools. the cost per unit of service is often many times greater than in urban locations. Accessing complex care in urban medical centers often generates a patient perception that all rural hospital care is of lower quality. Public health systems and an array of alternative primarycare providers often fill in the gaps. public and private insurers must struggle to control their expenditures. and market forces contribute to the economic destabilization of many rural health care systems. Emergency medical services in such areas are scattered over great distances and often staffed . physician assistants. Coronary bypass surgery. Neither of these populations generates reimbursements adequate to cover the costs of services. Physician shortages are most visible in primary prevention. spending most of the time traveling. Advances in medical technology. especially hospitals. Consequently. In addition. family planning. The urban nurse will be reimbursed for five visits and the rural nurse for two. Many rural hospitals and providers have diversified services to increase revenues. and treatment. cannot afford the equipment and personnel necessary to treat the entire array of modern disease and injury. Such resources are economically viable only in hospitals and surgical centers with high volumes of patients. the ability of people to get to those services. rural residents must often travel great distances to access more costly and complex levels of care. yet the time expended is the same. increasing costs. especially home-based or mobile services. rural communities suffer chronic physician shortages. the disabled. leading to greater shortages of personnel. Consequently. the area suffers from the significant loss of employment. For example. equipment. Practice locations include publicly or charitably subsidized comprehensive primary-care centers or categorical service clinics (e.g. Low population density and greater travel times and barriers in rural areas affect service availability. mobile clinics. or fee scales.

A country's health care system also reflects in part the culture and values of that society. doctors engaged in "solo practice. For instance. or Medicaid) and how much money is spent on medical care. specialist physicians. The delivery of care refers to how and where medical services are provided (for example. and alternative practitioners) and whether they are practicing as individuals. the rise of modern surgery in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries helped create the modern hospital in the United States and helped lead to the concentration of so many medical and surgical services in hospital settings. Migrant Workers. primary care physicians. France. ISAAC. Primary Care. The financing of care involves who pays for medical services (for example. Health care systems. and delivered. such as mountains or rivers. However." whereby they practiced by themselves without . Prevention. Emergency care for severe trauma or major acute illnesses. financed. causing increased morbidity and mortality. HEATHER REED US History Encyclopedia: Health Care Top Home > Library > History. physicians in the United States. urban. health care systems reflect the changing scientific and technologic nature of medical practice. Public Health Nursing) — SUSAN W. doctors' offices. and in rural. private insurance. regardless of sex and age. Traditional Medical Practice in America For the first century of the republic. are not fixed but are continually evolving. Poverty and Health. such as psychiatry and dermatology. such as western Kansas. The organization of care refers to such issues as who gives care (for example. like medical knowledge and medical practice. Of particular interest to a health care system is how medical care is organized. in large groups. may take longer to arrive than in other areas. magnify the effects of distance. Poor roads or geographic barriers. almost all physicians engaged in "general practice"—the provision of medical and surgical care for all diseases and for all patients. reflecting the different cultural values and mores of those societies. self-pay. More remote areas with the capacity to pay for the technology. In part.with volunteers who have other jobs. Medicare. such as stroke and heart attack. in small groups. (SEE ALSO: Immunizations. Typically. Canada. Germany. Thus. and Great Britain follow similar medical practices. Politics & Society > US History Encyclopedia The term "health care system" refers to a country's system of delivering services for the prevention and treatment of disease and for the promotion of physical and mental well-being. nurses. in hospitals. Prenatal Care. but the health care systems of these nations vary considerably. or various types of outpatient clinics. the rise of "minimally invasive" surgery a century later contributed to the movement of many surgical procedures out of hospitals and into doctors' offices and other outpatient locations. or suburban locations). are beginning to use telemedicine to improve access for primary care and certain specialty care. or in massive corporate organizations.

However. Reflecting the rural makeup of the country. In the 1920s. childbirth. Many physicians could not be kept busy practicing medicine. and by 1940 formal certifying boards in the major clinical specialties had been established. safer childbirth.) Most physicians continued in solo. antiseizure medications. Medicine at this time was not an easy way for an individual to earn a living. Table 1 Specialization in Medicine American Board of Ophthalmology American Board of Pediatrics 191 6 193 3 . was not high. there were 661 hospitals in the United States containing in aggregate about 30.partners.000 beds. Doctors would give patients a bill. and large wards for indigent patients where as many as thirty or forty "charity" patients would be housed together in one wide open room. homeopaths. and doctors often received payment in kind—a chicken or box of fruit rather than money. and it was common for doctors to have a second business like a farm. specialty medicine was already becoming prominent. Residency programs in the clinical specialties had been created. and health care was not yet considered a fundamental right. and patients would pay out of pocket. Before World War II (1939–1945). particularly in the South.S. fueled by the revolution in medical science (particularly the rise of bacteriology and modern surgery). but already 80 percent of physicians resided in cities or large towns. or pharmacy. and many effective new drugs and operations—the cultural authority of doctors continued to grow. Physician income. and faith healers." In 1875. general store. vitamins. As one manifestation of this phenomenon. the U. Competition for patients from alternative healers diminished. competition to "regular medicine" from alternative healers had markedly slackened. (Some medical specialists earned much more. about 75 to 80 percent of doctors continued to engage in general practice. the technologic capacity and cultural authority of physicians in the United States began to escalate. where larger concentrations of patients could be found. The location of care moved to doctors' offices for routine illnesses and to hospitals for surgery. Decade by decade. population was still 50 percent rural. physician earned 2½ times the income of the average worker. Doctors also experienced vigorous competition for patients from a variety of alternative or lay healers like Thomsonians. fueled by the growing results of scientific research and the resultant transformation of medical practice—antibiotics. hospital wards were segregated by race. Payment was on the "fee-for-service" basis. and the average U. and major medical problems. doctors were increasingly found in larger metropolises. the hospital came to be considered the "doctor's workshop. In the last quarter of the nineteenth century and first quarter of the twentieth century. Doctors' offices were typically at their homes or farms. By 1930. Indeed. most physicians resided in rural settings.000. on average. a "two-tiered" system of health care officially existed—private rooms in hospitals for paying patients. Since most hospitals were concentrated in cities and large towns. and together they contained about one million beds. House calls were common. By 1940. and most Americans thought of consulting a doctor if they needed medical services. the number of acute care hospitals had increased to around 7. In many hospitals and clinics. fee-for-service practice.S. hormones.

corticosteroids. and by the end of the century life expectancy in the United States had increased about 30 years from that of 1900. antihypertensive drugs. stroke. openheart surgery. average life expectancy in the United States was forty-seven years. most notably the polio vaccine. mechanical ventilators. and the major causes of death each year were various infections. Powerful diagnostic tools were developed. immunosuppressants. In 1900. 1945–1985 The four decades following World War II witnessed even more extraordinary advances in the ability of medical care to prevent and relieve suffering. and a variety of organ transplantations. radioimmunoassays. kidney dialysis machines. and heart attacks had replaced infections as the major causes of death. New vaccines. Most Americans now faced the . such as automated chemistry analyzers. such as newer and more powerful antibiotics. Equally impressive therapeutic procedures came into use. computerized tomography. hip replacements. and nuclear magnetic resonance imaging. By midcentury. chronic diseases such as cancer. were developed.Specialization in Medicine American Board of Radiology American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology American Board of Orthopedic Surgery 193 4 193 4 193 4 American Board of Colon and Rectal 193 Surgery 4 American Board of Urology American Board of Pathology American Board of Internal Medicine American Board of Anesthesiology American Board of Plastic Surgery American Board of Surgery American Board of Neurological Surgery 193 5 193 6 193 6 193 7 193 7 193 7 194 0 The Transformation of Health Care.

expenditures on health care in dollars increased nearly sixfold. by 1960. stunned many Americans by pointing out that U. This change in attitude was financed by the rise of "third-party payers" that brought more and more Americans into the health care system. the health care system was under increasing stress. Before the war. physicians increasingly began to practice in groups with other physicians. not merely a privilege. Employers found their competitiveness in the global market to be compromised. The egalitarian spirit of post–World War II society resulted in the new view that health care was a fundamental right of all citizens. When he left office in 2001. Third-party payers of this era continued to reimburse physicians and hospitals on a fee-for-service basis. for institutions with segregated wards were ineligible to receive federal payments.S. these problems seemed even more insurmountable. this meant unprecedented financial prosperity and minimal interference by payers in medical decision-making.problem of helping their parents or grandparents cope with Alzheimer's disease or cancer rather than that of standing by helplessly watching their children suffocate to death from diphtheria. In the fifteen years following the passage of Medicare and Medicaid. while president of Chrysler in the late 1970s. Public opinion polls of the early 1980s revealed that 60 percent of the population worried about health care costs. And the scientific and technological advances of medicine created a host of unprecedented ethical issues: the meaning of life and death. instead. for they were competing with foreign companies that paid far less for employee health insurance than they did. the enactment of the landmark Medicare (a federal program for individuals over 65) and Medicaid (joint federal and state programs for the poor) legislation extended health care coverage to millions of additional Americans." which was estimated to be two to four times as much as in other Western industrialized nations. Millions of Americans became unwillingly tied to their employers. and health care costs rose from 6 percent to 9 percent of the country's gross domestic product (GDP). health care system became inundated with paperwork and "red tape. how to preserve patient autonomy and to obtain proper informed consent for clinical care or research trials. that number had climbed to around 48 million. and 1960s. The increasingly complicated U. Medicare and Medicaid also brought to an end the era of segregation at U.S. In the era of the soaring federal budget deficits of the Reagan administration. Table 2 . 1950s.) Many patients and health policy experts complained of the fragmentation of services that resulted from increasing specialization. Fewer and fewer doctors were engaged in solo practice. Lee Iacocca. automobile companies were spending more per car on health premiums for workers than for the steel that went into the automobiles. (When President Bill Clinton assumed office in 1993. unable to switch to a better job because of the loss of health care benefits if they did so. the number of uninsured Americans was estimated at 40 million. To most observers. others argued that there was an overemphasis on disease treatment and a relative neglect of disease prevention and health promotion. when and how to turn off an artificial life-support device. In the 1940s. the most critical problem of the health care system was soaring costs. private medical insurance companies like Blue Cross/Blue Shield began providing health care insurance to millions of middle-class citizens. compared with only 10 percent who worried about the quality of care. however. In 1965.S. For providers of medical care. hospitals. Despite these accomplishments. These exceptional scientific accomplishments. 85 to 90 percent of medical graduates were choosing careers in specialty or subspecialty medicine. Tens of millions of Americans still did not have access to health care. resulted in profound changes in the country's health care delivery system. together with the development of the civil rights movement after World War II. however. most American physicians were still general practitioners.

medical schools. severe restrictions on the length of time a patient may remain in the hospital. and the requirement that patients be allowed to see specialists only if referred by a "gatekeeper. It has forced the medical profession for the first time to think seriously about costs." Ironically. when that can be done safely. the emphasis on cost containment has come at the erosion of the quality of care." "Managed care" is a generic term that refers to a large variety of reimbursement plans in which third-party payers attempt to control costs by limiting the utilization of medical services. Any cost savings that were achieved were considered a secondary benefit. Examples of such cost-savings strategies include the requirement that physicians prescribe drugs only on a plan's approved formulary. Health Care Costs Dollars 1950 1965 1980 2000 Percentage of GDP $12. it has encouraged greater attention to patients as consumers (for example. had been organized in the 1930s to achieve better coordination and continuity of care and to emphasize preventive medical services. better parking and more palatable hospital food). there have been serious drawbacks to managed care that in the view of many observers have outweighed its accomplishments. In the view of many. the first health maintenance organization.7 billion 4. however. the twenty-first century has . the attempt to control costs had become the dominant force underlying the managed care movement. the managed care movement has encouraged physicians to move many treatments and procedures from hospitals to less costly ambulatory settings.5 percent $40 billion (est.S.S. By the 1980s. Managed care has not kept its promise of controlling health care costs. and it has stimulated the use of modern information technologies and business practices in the U. As a result. and the dollar-dominated medical marketplace has been highly injurious to medical education.2 trillion 14 percent The Managed Care Era.) 6 percent $230 billion 9 percent $1. health care system. and in the early years of President George Walker Bush's administration. soaring medical care costs. Unquestionably." allegedly serving patients but in fact refusing them needed tests and procedures in order to save money for the employing organization or insurance company. in contrast to the "hands off" style of traditional feefor-service payment. In addition. coupled with the inability of federal regulations and the medical profession on its own to achieve any meaningful cost control. However. the managed care movement has brought much good. the country once again faced double-digit health care inflation. Kaiser Permanente. Managed care has also resulted in a serious loss of trust in doctors and the health care system—creating a widespread fear that doctors might be acting as "double agents. 1985–present In the mid-1980s. and teaching hospitals.U. led to the business-imposed approach of "managed care. mandated preauthorizations before hospitalization or surgery.

clinics. a more accessible system of highquality care will tend to lead to higher costs. Lastly. Nonprofit managed care organizations. Instead of spending 95 percent of their premiums on health care (a "medical loss" of 95 percent). Better access to the system must also be provided. Yet the wiser and more efficient use of resources is only one challenge to our country's health care system.opened with a significant public backlash against managed care and a vociferous "patients' rights movement. Future Challenges The U. ready access to the system.S. At some point hard decisions will have to be made about what services will and will not be paid for. In the twenty-first century. 70. the country will still face the problem of limited resources and seemingly limitless demand. For-profit managed care companies. such as Kaiser Permanente. there is much room to operate a more efficient. retaining the rest for the financial benefit of executives and investors. or pharmacies.S. health care system. This can be done by recognizing the broad determinants of health like good education and meaningful employment opportunities. health care system consider the for-profit motive in the delivery of medical services—rather than managed care per se—the more serious problem. Medical insurance alone will not solve the health problems of a poor urban community where there are no hospitals. in contrast. the American public must be wise and courageous enough to maintain realistic expectations of medicine. doctors.S. other causes of soaring health care costs are clearly less defensible. Certain causes of health care inflation are desirable and inevitable: an aging population and the development of new drugs and technologies. they spend only 80. Some astute observers of the U. responsible health care delivery system in the United States at a more affordable price. Any efforts at cost containment must continue to be appropriately balanced with efforts to maintain high quality and patient advocacy in medical care. while a low-cost system available to everyone is likely to be achieved at the price of diminishing quality. and the existence of for-profit managed care organizations and hospital chains that each year divert billions of dollars of health care premiums away from medical care and into private wealth. However. a litigious culture that results in the high price of "defensive medicine. or even 60 percent of the premiums on health services. the for-profit problem is highly significant. Thus. Only when all these issues are satisfactorily taken into account will the United States have a health care delivery system that matches the promise of what medical science and practice have to offer. since 90 percent of managed care organizations are investor-owned companies. However. avoiding the "medicalization" of social ills like crime and drug addiction. retain about 5 percent of the health premiums they receive for administrative and capital expenses and use the remaining 95 percent to provide health care for enrollees. The practical problem in health care policy is that the pursuit of any two of these goals aggravates the third. and recognizing that individuals must assume responsibility for their own health by choosing a healthy lifestyle. Bibliography ." Ironically. health care system has three primary goals: the provision of high-quality care. These include the high administrative costs of the U. and affordable costs. seek to minimize what they call the "medical loss"—the portion of the health care premium that is actually used for health care. Clearly." a profligate American practice style in which many doctors often perform unnecessary tests and procedures. many of the perceived abuses of managed care have less to do with the principles of managed care than with the presence of the profit motive in investor-owned managed care organizations. the inflationary consequences of having a "third party" pay the bill (thereby removing incentives from both doctors and patients to conserve dollars).

Edited by Charles E. Health Policies. New York: Basic Books. The Social Transformation of American Medicine: The Rise of a Sovereign Profession and the Making of a Vast Industry. 1989. In Sickness and in Wealth: America's Hospitals in the Twentieth Century. America's Health in the Balance: Choice or Chance? New York: Harper and Row. Rosenberg. Fuchs. Discussion of this nomination can be found on the talk page. Lundberg. New York: Basic Books. Medicine.: Harvard University Press. N. The Care of Strangers: The Rise of America's Hospital System. Mass. New Brunswick.J. Rodwin. Rosen. Marc A. Money. Painful Choices: Research and Essays on Health Care. Charles E. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. Mechanic. The Profit Motive and Patient Care: The Changing Accountability of Doctors and Hospitals. Health Politics: The British and American Experience. New York: Oxford University Press. 1875–1941. New York: Oxford University Press. New York: Basic Books. 1987. . Mass. 1999. George D. 1991. Ludmerer. Wikipedia: Health care Top Home > Library > Miscellaneous > Wikipedia This article has been nominated to be checked for its neutrality. Cambridge. 1911– 1965. Kenneth M.Fox.: Rutgers University Press. Gray. Victor R. Severed Trust: Why American Medicine Hasn't Been Fixed. David. N. 1982. Bradford H. 1986. Stevens.: Harvard University Press. Princeton. 1986. 1989. Rosemary. Daniel M. Paul. George. Rosenberg. and Morals: Physicians' Conflicts of Interest. Howard H. The Structure of American Medical Practice. The Health Economy.: Princeton University Press.J. New York: Basic Books. (November 2009) For other uses. see Health care (disambiguation). 1993. Hiatt. 2000. Time to Heal: American Medical Education from the Turn of the Century to the Era of Managed Care. 1983. 1987. Cambridge. Starr.

is the treatment and management of illnesses of the elderly. Health care (often healthcare in British English).1 World Health Organization 3 Economics 4 Systems 5 Politics 6 Health care by country .[1] The definition of to recognize. 2009</ref>. English-speakers referred to medicine or to the health sector and spoke of the treatment and prevention of illness and disease. nursing.Surgery one of the most invasive. including “preventive. health insurance (reimbursement of health care costs). The public health is related most to economic development and wealth distribution. and allied health professions. Health care embraces all the goods and services designed to promote health. and the public health (the collective state and range of health in a population). curative and palliative interventions. clinical sciences (in vitro diagnostics). complementary and alternative medicine. whether directed to individuals or to populations”. dental. or in access to of medical healthcare in individual health-seeking. difficult and expensive procedures in medicine. -promoting or -maintaining behaviours. and the preservation of health through services offered by the medical. The social and political issue of access to healthcare in the US has led to public debate and confusing use of terms such as health care (medical management of illness or disease)." Albany Times-Union November 12. Contents [hide] • • • • • • 1 Health-care industry 2 Research ○ 2. pharmaceutical. and health insurance is a business which both provides and restricts reimbursement for healthcare itself in the event of disease. Before the term health care became popular. tough to define. The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement is a well-known international relief movement.

The New England Journal of Medicine. medical massage. Europe spends a little less that the United States (€22. music therapy. The particular sectors associated with these groups are: biotechnology. According to market classifications of industry such as the Global Industry Classification Standard and the Industry Classification Benchmark the health-care industry includes health care equipment & services and pharmaceuticals. Biomedical research (or experimental medicine). or under the supervision of. List of pharmaceutical sciences journals. [4] According to government classifications of Industry. nursing home. Medical and dental practice activities. the International Standard Industrial Classification. drug manufacturers. and Medical literature Top impact factor academic journals in the health care field include Health Affairs and Milbank Quarterly. is the basic research. hydrotherapy. biotechnology & life sciences.05bn in 2006) and there is less growth in European R&D spending. and the Journal of the American Medical Association are more general journals. health care generally consists of Hospital activities. pathology clinics. British Medical Journal. chiropractice. etc. List of bioinformatics journals. List of medical journals. physiotherapists.[2][3] The health-care industry incorporates several sectors that are dedicated to providing services and products dedicated to improving the health of individuals. homeopathy. providers of health care plans and home health care.50bn compared to €27. nurses.[6] . applied research. and back again. which are mostly based on the United Nations system. occupational therapy. A new paradigm to biomedical research is being termed translational research. drug delivery. The last class consists of all activities for human health not performed by hospitals or by medical doctors or dentists. diagnostic substances. The latter is termed preclinical research if its goal is specifically to elaborate knowledge for the development of new therapeutic strategies.• • • 7 See also 8 Notes 9 External links Health-care industry Main article: Health care industry The delivery of modern health care depends on an expanding group of trained professionals coming together as an interdisciplinary team. This involves activities of. diagnostic laboratories. hospitals. In terms of pharmaceutical R&D spending. in general simply known as medical research. chiropody. medical equipment and instruments. [5] Research See also: List of health care journals. and all other research that contributes to the development of new treatments. speech therapy. nursing homes. midwives. or translational research conducted to aid the body of knowledge in the field of medicine. ambulance. scientific or diagnostic laboratiories. which focuses on iterative feedback loops between the basic and clinical research domains to accelerate knowledge translation from the bedside to the bench. and other human health activities. or other para-medical practitioners in the field of optometry. acupuncture. Medical research can be divided into two general categories: the evaluation of new treatments for both safety and efficacy in what are termed clinical trials.

currently around 80 such partnerships. often credited with giving rise to the health economics as a discipline. and the private sector (including pharmaceutical companies). The organization has already endorsed the world's first official HIV/AIDS Toolkit for Zimbabwe from October 3. making it an international standard. the Health Organization. these imbalances lead to market failures resulting from asymmetric information. In 1979 the WHO declared that the disease had been eradicated . and headquartered in Geneva. foundations and NGOs. and externalities. . the United States dominates the biopharmaceutical field. accounting for the three quarters of the world’s biotechnology revenues and 80% of world R&D spending in biotechnology.[12] Governments tend to regulate the health care industry heavily and also tend to be the largest payer within the market. drew conceptual distinctions between health and other goals. In recent years the WHO's work has involved more collaboration. [7][8] However. now exceed that of assessed contributions (dues) from its 193 member nations. asymmetric information. which had been an agency of the League of Nations. Uncertainty is intrinsic to health. Switzerland. the agency inherited the mandate and resources of its predecessor. intractable uncertainty in several dimensions. Established on 7 April 1948.[7] Pharmaceuticals and other medical devices are the leading high technology exports of Europe and the United States. Externalities arise frequently when considering health and health care.[11] Factors that distinguish health economics from other areas include extensive government intervention. as well as with foundations such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation. The WHO is nearing success in developing vaccines against malaria and schistosomiasis and aims to eradicate polio within the next few years. Broadly. Voluntary contributions to the WHO from national and local governments. both in patient outcomes and financial concerns. The knowledge gap that exists between a physician and a patient can prevent the patient from accurately describing his symptoms or enable the physician to prescribe unnecessary but profitable services. with NGOs and the pharmaceutical industry. [6][7] World Health Organization Main article: World Health Organization See also: Global health The World Health Organization (WHO) is a specialized United Nations agency which acts as a coordinator and researcher for public health around the world. Examples of its work include years of fighting smallpox. The WHO's constitution states that its mission "is the attainment by all peoples of the highest possible level of health.[10] Economics Main article: Health economics Health economics is a branch of economics concerned with issues related to scarcity in the allocation of health and health care. especially key infectious diseases.the first disease in history to be completely eliminated by deliberate human design. health economists study the functioning of the health care system and the private and social causes of health-affecting behaviors such as smoking. and to promote the general health of the peoples of the world. other UN organizations. A seminal 1963 article by Kenneth Arrow.[9] The WHO is financed by contributions from member states and from donors." Its major task is to combat disease. 2006.

volunteers on their local hospital. The scope of health economics is neatly encapsulated by Alan William's "plumbing diagram"[13] dividing the discipline into eight distinct topics: • • • • • • • • What influences health? (other than health care) What is health and what is its value The demand for health care The supply of health care Micro-economic evaluation at treatment level Market equilibrium Evaluation at whole system level.7%) being the top three. respectively. and all other nations account for 30%. Japan. making an effort to avoid catching a cold. In 2001.4 per cent of GDP across the OECD countries[14] with the United States (13. 9%. The United States and Canada account for 48% of world pharmaceutical sales. Switzerland (10. while Europe. affects people other than the decision maker. Systems A group of Chilean 'Damas de Rojo'. and 13%.9%). Main article: Health care system See also: Preventive medicine and Social medicine . For example. or practising safer sex. and Germany (10.[7] United States accounts for the three quarters of the world’s biotechnology revenues.9%). Planning. and.notably in the context of infectious disease. health care can form an enormous part of a country's economy. budgeting and monitoring mechanisms. health care consumed 8. Consuming just under 10 percent of gross domestic product of most developed nations.

with which the state of Massachusetts has experimented. in which systems. In Brazil. A few states have taken serious steps toward universal health care coverage. Critics of consumer-driven health say that it would benefit the healthy but be insufficient for the chronically sick. In contrast. It defines illness from the point of view of the individual's functioning within their society rather than by monitoring for changes in biological or physiological signs. Massachusetts and Connecticut. Finally. Over the past thirty years.[16] Private sources account for the remainder of costs. the greater problems with this approach have been the gradual deregulation of HMOs resulting in fewer of the promised choices for consumers. revolve around the use of private finance initiatives to build hospitals which it is argued costs taxpayers more in the long run.[18] Politics Main article: Health policy The politics of health care depends largely on which country one is in. much as the current system operates. state. consumers. The medical model of health focuses on the eradication of illness through diagnosis and effective treatment. an important political issue . with recent examples being the Massachusetts 2006 Health Reform Statute[17] and Connecticut's SustiNet plan to provide quality. Health system reform in the United States usually focuses around three suggested systems. extent. and usually for-profit. A traditional view is that improvements in health result from advancements in medical science. system is allowed to operate. most of the nation's health care has moved from the second model operating with not-for-profit institutions to the third model operating with for-profit institutions.S. and the steady increase in consumer cost that has marginalized consumers and burdened states with excessive urgent health care costs that are avoided with consumers have adequate access to preventive health care. state or municipality with a government health care system a parallel private. affordable health care to state residents. In almost every country. First is single payer. with 38% of people receiving health coverage through their employers and 17% arising from other private payment such as private insurance and out-of-pocket co-pays. concerns are more based on the rising cost of drugs to the governments. as found in most modernized countries as well as some states and municipalities within the United States. and this coverage and the services provided are regulated.Social health insurance is where a nation's entire population is eligible for health care coverage. and local) account for 45% of U. for instance. Current concerns in England. The scale. This is sometimes referred to as two-tier health care. Government sources (federal. they have less short and mediumterm incentives than private agents to make purchases that can generate revenues and avoid bankruptcy. Opponents of government intervention into the market generally believe that such intervention distorts pricing as government agents would be operating outside of the corporate model and the principles of market discipline. Second are employer or individual insurance mandates. a term meant to describe a single agency managing a single system. and funding of these private systems is variable.[15] The United States currently operates under a mixed market health care system.[19] In Germany and France. most notably Minnesota. health care expenditures. there is consumer-driven health. the social model of health places emphasis on changes that can be made in society and in people's own lifestyles to make the population healthier. and patients have more control of how they access care. This is argued[by whom?] to provide a greater incentive to find cost-saving health care approaches. with proposals currently underway to integrate these systems in various ways to provide a number of health care options.

There are a wide variety of health care systems around the world. the health care system planning is distributed among market participants. or other co-ordinated bodies to deliver planned health care services targeted to the populations they serve. the state of Oregon and the city of San Francisco are both examples of governments that adopted universal healthcare systems for strictly fiscal reasons. and costs associated with the US health care system. [21] However. an early candidate who did not get on the ballot. [22] (In contrast. health care planning has often been evolutionary rather than revolutionary. . whose population sets the record for HIV infections. Dennis Kucinich.is the breach of intellectual property rights. charities. whereas in others planning is made more centrally among governments. [23] In contrast.org alleges that Obama's predicted savings were exaggerated. The South African government. To tackle the problems of the perpetually increasing number of uninsured. trade unions. came under pressure for its refusal to admit there is any connection with AIDS[20] because of the cost it would have involved. In the United States 12% to 16% of the citizens are still unable to afford health insurance. supported a single-payer system.) Factcheck. However. for the domestic manufacture of antiretroviral drugs used in the treatment of HIV/AIDS. State boards and the Department of Health regulate inpatient care to reduce the national health care deficit. President Barack Obama says he favors the creation of a universal health care system. New York Times opinion columnist Paul Krugman said that Obama's plan would not actually provide universal coverage. religious. In some countries. or patents. Health care by country Health care systems are designed to meet the health care needs of target populations.