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What is Health Economics and Why is it Important?

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Health Economics has been a hot topic recently. In countries like the United States the subject can lead to much contention. Many individuals discuss the subject without ever even realizing that there is a whole branch of economic theory devoted to this topic. Health care is one of the most important issues that concerns humans and economists have a lot to say about it.

What is Health Economics?

Health economics is devoted to the subject of how health care resources are allocated. These resources are viewed as scarce and health economics is interested in how a health care system can best function to get the most from these resources. Health economics is not only the concern of economists but also those involved in hospital management or any of the health care professionals. In fact the allocation of health care resources affects everyone and so everyone has a motive for wanting to know more about it.

Health economics looks at things from a macro and micro level. This means that not only is it interested in how a whole health care system functions but also in how things work at the treatment level. What goes on in a small community health facility can be just as interesting to the economist as how things function on a global level.

Health economics examines those things that affect our health that are not related to the actual treatments. These other factors can in fact be just as influential in our ability to escape sickness. Such things as the distance people live from a health care facility and how they pay for treatment is just as important as treatment itself. If the nearest hospital is over a hundred miles away or you can’t afford to pay for it then it does not really matter how good the medical treatment is going to be. Deciding on how much should people pay and how the health resources are spread within a society is what health economics is all about.

As you can see, health economics is a very important topic and it is likely to always be that way. So long as there is any type of scarcity there will need to be decisions about how resources are allocated. Understanding the different arguments as to what is best for society is useful for anyone interested in the topic. There are now many voices expressing ideas about this subject and most have very interesting things to say.

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