Article - Dov Chernichovsky

  • Country: Israel
  • # Pages: 9
  • Publication Year: 1991
  • Type of Media: Article

Abstract

Improved health, equity, macroeconomic efficiency, efficient provision of care, and client satisfaction are the common goals of any health system. The relative significance of these goals varies, however, across nations, communities and with time. As for health care finance, the attainment of these goals under varying circumstances involves alternative policy options for each of the following elements: sources of finance, allocation of finance, payment to providers, and public-private mix. The intricate set of multiple goals, elements and policy options defies human reasoning, and, hence, hinders effective policymaking. Indeed, "health system finance" is not amenable to a clear set of structural relationships. Neither is there a universe that can be subject to statistical scrutiny: each health system is unique. "Fuzzy logic" models human reasoning by managing "expert knowledge" close to the way it is handled by human language. It is used here for guiding policy making by a systematic analysis of health system finance. Assuming equal welfare weights for alternative goals and mutually exclusive policy options under each health-financing element, the exploratory model we present here suggests that a German-type health system is best. Other solutions depend on the welfare weights for system goals and mixes of policy options.

Abstract

The conventional wisdom says that because the cost of health care for the aged is more than that of the young at any time, there is a positive relationship between the aging or higher life expectancy of the population and aggregate health care spending. It is difficult, however, to find evidence to support this argument. We present a simple framework that shows how aging of the population may not necessarily increase the total cost of medical care over time or be observed across nations. This follows because numerous other factors that change with aging affect cost of care in ways that are not age-neutral. Such factors include age-specific shifts in morbidity and mortality, growth in income and insurance coverage, rising levels of education and changing technology. Consequently, the relative medical costs of the aged may indeed increase, at least for demographic reasons. Simultaneously, however, the costs of the young may decrease for the same reasons. The Israeli experience, used as a basis for a cursory empirical discussion of the issues, supports the line of reasoning presented in the paper. Copyright © 2003 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.