Term paper on The contribution of healthcare economics to health promotion

Economics implies the way people and society in general choose to use insufficient productive resources that could as well be used in some other way, to manufacture certain goods and promote their distribution for consumption among different social groups. It also observes the costs, profits and benefits of improving means of distribution of resources (Sekhar, 2007). In regard to healthcare as a service, such a definition of economics makes it a scarce and indefinite study. Healthcare economics analyzes the way of choosing the most appropriate combination of resources to provide care for patients, for example. It also contributes to the choice of the best distribution of a certain number of resources between various kinds of health improvement. In such a way, economics is not restricted to a single kind of activity, but is applied to all human activities where scarcity and choice take place (Sekhar, 2007). The sphere of healthcare is no exception. The following research aims to answer the question of how healthcare economics contributes to health promotion. The research deals with certain aspects of healthcare economics and its role in health promotion. It refers to a number of scientific studies on this matter and provides a broad analysis of the main aspects of the role of healthcare economics in health promotion. Key words: healthcare economics, health promotion, economic evaluation, individual behavior. Speaking about the contribution of healthcare economics to health promotion, it is important to give definitions of these concepts. Healthcare economics may be defined as a study of how insufficient resources are distributed among their alternative uses in order to provide medical treatment of diseases, as well as promotion, maintenance and improvement of health. It also means the study of how healthcare and other services, their costs and profits are allocated among individual persons and social groups. Health promotion is regarded as a sphere that has been considerably neglected by the researchers of healthcare economics. It can be explained by a variety of reasons including shortage of demand by the specialists in health promotion sphere, misunderstanding of the role of health economics in health promotion, and a number of difficulties in the use of economic techniques in various health promotion programs. There are three vast areas that illustrate the role of healthcare economics in health promotion. These are economic evaluation, the policy of economics and health promotion, and the role of economics in analyzing individual behavior. Health promotion specialists have done much work in the area discussing the ability of health promotion to decrease healthcare costs in future through disease prevention. There are a number of prevention programs which proved to be efficient. However, not many of them resulted in significant decrease in total costs. In regard to smoking, for example, the researchers have come to a conclusion that despite the high cost of smoking-related disease treatment, general healthcare costs of a non-smoking population would increase by 7% for men and 4% for women than in the mixed population consisting of smokers and non-smokers (Hale, 2000). Nevertheless, it is not that important from the policy perspective. Due to the fact that the aim of health promotion is to decrease mortality but not to save money, such prevention programs should be considered in the same way as some other healthcare programs. They should answer the question of what other benefits are gained and at what cost it is achieved. The saying “prevention is better than cure” is also disregarded by economics. Economists consider that due to the fact that health promotion cannot replace treatment, it is irrelevant of whether or not “prevention is better than cure”. They believe that healthcare economics should be focused on the costs and profits of the distribution of resources between health promotion and disease treatment (Cohen, 1994). Nowadays, however, there is not much evidence of the cost effectiveness of a great number of health promotion programs, except for antismoking programs.

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