Preferences on Policy Options for Ensuring the Financial Sustainability of Health Care Services in the Future: Results of a Stakeholder Survey

By Tordrup, David; Angelis, Aris et al. | Applied Health Economics and Health Policy, December 2013 | Go to article overview

Preferences on Policy Options for Ensuring the Financial Sustainability of Health Care Services in the Future: Results of a Stakeholder Survey


Tordrup, David, Angelis, Aris, Kanavos, Panos, Applied Health Economics and Health Policy


Published online: 16 October 2013

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2013

Abstract

Background Universal access to health care in most western European countries has been a given for many decades; however, macroeconomic developments and increased pressure on health care budgets could mean the status quo cannot be maintained. As populations age, a declining proportion of economically active citizens are being required to support a larger burden of health and social care, while increasing availability of novel technologies for extending and improving life continues to push health care costs upwards. With health expenditure continuing to rise as a proportion of national income, concerns are raised about the current and future financial sustainability of Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) health care systems. Against this backdrop, a discussion about options to fund health care in the future, including whether to raise additional health care finance (and the ways to do so), reallocate resources and/or ration services becomes very pertinent.

Objective This study elicits preferences among a group of key stakeholders (payers, providers, government, academia and health-related industry) on the issue of health care financial sustainability and the future funding of health care services, with a view to understanding the different degrees of acceptability between policy interventions and future funding options as well as their feasibility.

Study Design and Participants We invited 842 individuals from academia, other research organisations (eg. think tanks), national health services, providers, health insurance organisations, government representatives and health-related industry and related advisory stakeholders to participate in an online survey collecting preferences on a variety of revenue-generating mechanisms and cost/demand reducing policies. Respondents represented the 28 EU member states as well as Norway, Iceland, Switzerland, Australia, Russian Federation, Canada and New Zealand.

Results We received 494 responses to our survey from all stakeholder groups. Across all groups, the highest preference was for policies to modify lifestyle and implement more extensive screening within risk groups for high burden illnesses. There was a broad consensus not to reallocate resources from social security/education. Between stakeholders, there were differences of opinion between industry/advisory and a range of other groups, with industry being generally more in favour of market-based interventions and an increased role for the private sector in health care financing/delivery. Conversely, stakeholders from academia, government, national health services and insurance were relatively more in favour of more restrictive purchasing of new and expensive technologies, and (to varying extent) of higher income/corporate taxes. Taxes on cigarettes/alcohol were by far considered the most politically feasible option.

Conclusions According to this study, policy options that are broadly acceptable across stakeholder groups with different inherent interests exist but are limited to lifestyle modification, screening interventions and excise taxes on harmful products. Representatives from the private sector tend to view solutions rooted in the private sector as both effective and politically feasible options, while stakeholders from academia and the public sector seem to place more emphasis on solutions that do not disproportionately impact certain population groups.

(ProQuest: ... denotes formula omitted.)

1 Introduction

Universal access to health care that is free or relatively low cost at point of use has become a hallmark of most Orga- nisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) health systems, and is being adopted gradually as a model in many emerging economies. With expenditures approaching, and in some cases exceeding, 10 % of gross domestic product (GDP), national health systems (NHS) in many countries are facing concerns about current and future financial sustainability. …

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