Cost–Benefit Analysis and Health Care Evaluations

Cost–Benefit Analysis and Health Care Evaluations

Robert J. Brent

Cost–benefit analysis is the only method of economic evaluation which can effectively indicate whether a health care treatment or intervention is worthwhile. This book attempts to build a bridge between cost–benefit analysis, as developed by economists, and the health care evaluation literature which relies on other evaluation approaches such as cost-minimization, cost-effectiveness analysis and cost–utility analysis.

Preface

Robert J. Brent

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

Extract

Why write a third text on cost–benefit analysis (in addition to Applied Cost–Benefit Analysis (1996) and Cost–Benefit Analysis of Developing Countries (1998)), and why devote this text to just one area of application? First, as I regard CBA (cost–benefit analysis) as covering half of economics (the half that deals with how the economy should be changed, as opposed to the other half that explains how the economy operates in theory and practice), it would be silly to claim that everything that needs to be said is included in two volumes. Even though the previous texts are, like this one, geared to the basic principles of social evaluation (and how many basic principles can there be?), this does not mean that, because the basic principles do not change much, therefore the field does not change much. CBA is inherently an applied one; as applications grow in number and diversity, one’s understanding and appreciation for the basic principles develops. In this context, a new set of applications is sufficient to help the discipline progress. Reassembling the same basic principles in new ways can also provide useful insights. Second, the health care field is all encompassing. Matters of life and death are central to the field and it is hard to imagine any important policy issue not appearing here in some guise. Perhaps because of the recognition of its importance, the health care field is not content to leave matters in the hands of...