Table of Contents

The LSE Companion to Health Policy

The LSE Companion to Health Policy

Elgar original reference

Edited by Alistair McGuire and Joan Costa-Font

The LSE Companion to Health Policy covers a wide range of conceptual and practical issues from a number of different perspectives introducing the reader to, and summarising, the vast literature that analyses the complexities of health policy. The Companion also assesses the current state of the art.

Chapter 1: Inequalities in Health: Why Do We Care? How Do We Care? What Can We Do About Them?

Cristina Hernández-Quevedo and Joan Costa-Font

Subjects: economics and finance, health policy and economics, public sector economics, politics and public policy, public policy, social policy and sociology, health policy and economics


Cristina Hernández-Quevedo and Joan Costa-Font 1. INTRODUCTION A widely accepted governmental goal in Western countries is that individuals should enjoy good health, through ensuring equitable access to health irrespective of each individual’s social position. This takes place primarily by lowering (and ideally removing) barriers to health care access so as to reduce the socioeconomic vector in health access and financing, and thus achieve health equity standards. The World Health Organization performance framework, introduced in The World Health Report (2000), establishes that the main goals of a health care system are: health attainment, by ensuring access to care; responsiveness to population needs from health care services; and a fair distribution of financing. To accomplish health equity goals, health systems typically design programmes and institutions that attempt to lower existing barriers to health care, primarily those affecting its financing and general access – and to a lesser extent preventive programmes. Fairness in health financing is addressed by providing comprehensive coverage and limiting the use of direct payments. Similarly, barriers to health care access are normally addressed through programmes that improve the delivery of health care and prevention, although public programmes are seldom capable of dealing with pre-existing unequal conditions. Equity in health, however, has been considered an undesirable policy objective because it would impose many restrictions on individuals’ choice of how to live their lives (Oliver and Mossialos, 2004). Hence interest focuses on the differences of levels of health outcomes across individuals with different socioeconomic characteristics, such as income, job status, education...

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

Elgaronline requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals. Please login through your library system or with your personal username and password on the homepage.

Non-subscribers can freely search the site, view abstracts/ extracts and download selected front matter and introductory chapters for personal use.

Your library may not have purchased all subject areas. If you are authenticated and think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

Further information